By JACQUES BILLEAUD
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona appeals court has rejected Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her defeat in the Arizona governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, denying her request to throw out election results in the state’s most populous county and hold the election again.
In a ruling on Thursday, the Arizona Court of Appeals wrote Lake, who claimed problems with ballot printers at some polling places on Election Day were the result of intentional misconduct, presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were not able to vote. The court said that even a witness called by Lake to testify had confirmed that ballots that couldn’t initially be read at polling places could still ultimately have their vote counted.
And while a pollster who testified on behalf of Lake claimed the polling place problems had disenfranchised enough voters to change the outcome in Lake’s favor, the court said his conclusion were baseless.
The appeals court wrote Lake’s appeal failed because the evidence supports the conclusion that “voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies setting aside the election results.”
Shortly after the ruling, Lake tweeted: “I told you we would take this case all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, and that’s exactly what we are going to do. Buckle up, America!”
Lake, who lost to Hobbs by just over 17,000 votes, was among the most vocal 2022 Republicans promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, which she made the centerpiece of her campaign. While most of the other election deniers around the country conceded after losing their races in November, Lake did not.
Lawyers for Lake focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of the state’s voters. The defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places. Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion.
County officials say everyone had a chance to vote and all ballots were counted since ballots affected by the printers were taken to more sophisticated counters at the elections department headquarters.
Lake’s attorneys also claim the chain of custody for ballots was broken at an off-site facility, where a contractor scans mail ballots to prepare them for processing. They claim workers at the facility put their own mail ballots into the pile, rather than returning them through normal channels, and also that paperwork documenting the transfer of ballots was missing. The county disputes the claim.
Hobbs’ attorneys said Lake was trying to sow distrust in Arizona’s election results and offered no proof to back up her allegations of election misconduct.
Lake faced extremely long odds in her challenge, needing to prove not only that misconduct occurred, but also that it was intended to deny her victory and did in fact result in the wrong woman being declared the winner. In her appeal, her lawyers argued a trial court judge applied the wrong standard of proof in deciding the case.
Hobbs took office as governor on Jan. 2.