(A hill) – An Arizona judge on Saturday ruled against Kari Lake in her challenge to the victory of Gov.-elect Kathy Hobbs (D), dismissing the high-profile case challenging the results of the midterm elections.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ruled after a two-day trial that Lake failed to prove that election officials committed intentional wrongdoing sufficient to alter the outcome of the race.
Lake, who lost to Hobbs by 17,000 votes, alleged that election officials in Maricopa County deliberately sabotaged her victory by causing printer malfunctions on Election Day and violating control procedures.
Lake asked a judge to declare her the rightful winner or call a new election in Maricopa County.
Hobbs has a grand opening on January 2nd.
Formerly Thompson rejected eight other counts argued Lake’s lawsuit, ruling that they were not a valid basis for an election contest under Arizona law, even if true, but the judge allowed Lake to try to prove the other two counts in court.
The ruling marks a major defeat for Lake, a staunch supporter of former President Trump’s 2020 election claims, who opposed the midterm elections last month, calling them “failed” and “rigged.” Lake sat in the courtroom during the trial but did not testify.
Her charges mostly involved Maricopa County, which covers the Phoenix area and makes up about 60% of Arizona’s population. the epicenter of accusations of disenfranchisement in the interim.
Election officials acknowledged that some county polling centers experienced printer malfunctions on Election Day that prevented tabulators from reading ballots, but they insisted that voters could use backup options to count their ballots.
Lake’s campaign noted that Election Day voters tend to back Republicans, using witness statements and affidavits to argue that the challenges were deliberately designed to make Hobbs the winner and disenfranchised enough Lake supporters to lead to the defeat of the Republican.
When asked during the trial whether he had intentionally sabotaged the printers or knew of anyone who did, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) said, “Absolutely not.”
Lake’s company then called a witness, Clay Parish, who examined the ballots on behalf of her company and said he examined 14 ballots that had a 19-inch image printed on 20-inch paper. Parikh speculated that the discrepancy would cause problems with the spreadsheet and require deliberate changes to the printer’s settings.
Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett testified that the county’s root cause analysis is ongoing, but officials determined that the printer’s heat settings contributed to the problem.
Jarrett said temporary technicians trying to fix the malfunction activated the print setting at three polling centers, creating just under 1,300 ballots with the smaller image, but Jarrett insisted those ballots were eventually tabulated.
Lake’s campaign also subpoenaed Richard Burris, who ran exit polling in Arizona for the conservative firm Big Data Poll, and argued that Election Day problems were enough to swing the outcome. He said his firm reached its conclusion based in part on historical data and an exit poll question that asked voters if they had any problems while voting.
Under cross-examination, Barris admitted that the poll could not say whether the problems were related to a printer malfunction or whether they were the reason for the refusal to vote.
One of Hobbs’ lawyers also noted that Barys’ firm is part of 10 gangs prohibited by the well-known survey aggregator FiveThirtyEight of the nearly 500 pollsters it evaluates. Boris argued that FiveThirtyEight is not an “authority” for pollsters.
Lake’s company also alleged that Maricopa County violated procedures for preserving early voting ballots when they were turned over to Runbeck Election Services, a third party that scanned images of ballot signatures so the county could verify them.
Heather Haney, who testified on behalf of the Lake Company, said Maricopa County’s response to her chain of custody request did not include early voting documents thrown out on Election Day.
Joe Larue, a Maricopa County attorney, said Haney misunderstood the different types of chain of custody documents and claimed they actually existed.
Haney also testified that a Runbeck employee told her that employees could bring their families’ ballots directly into the counting room, and the employee saw about 50 ballots brought in that way.
When Hobbs’ attorney, Andy Gaona, asked if Honey had more evidence that other ballots were entered into the system, she said that was not “an answerable question.”
Ray Valenzuela, director of elections for Maricopa County, said he was unaware that Runbeck allowed his staff to enter ballots.
The judge’s decision marks the fourth rejection of the Republican Party’s challenge to the results of the Arizona election.
Another case challenging Hobbs’ victory and another challenging the victory of Arizona Secretary-elect Adrian Fontes (D) were also dismissed, though Fontes’ Republican opponent appealed the decision.
A judge on Friday dismissed a separate election challenge filed by Arizona Republican attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, who trails his opponent by just 511 votes out of 2.5 million ballots before the automatic recount.