Hamadeh's team argues reviewing ballots will show he won Ariz. AG race in hearing for new trial

The race was decided by 280 votes.

Published: May 16, 2023 9:21pm

Updated: May 16, 2023 11:19pm

Abe Hamadeh, the 2022 Arizona GOP attorney general nominee, had a hearing Tuesday on his motion for a new trial for an election contest, where his legal team argued that reviewing undervotes and provisional ballots will show that he’s the winner of the election.

Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee are suing his opponent, Democratic Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, to ensure all votes were counted in their midterm election contest, which Hamadeh lost by just 280 votes, according to an automatic statewide recount.

The GOP attorney general nominee previously had a trial in December regarding his election, but it was before the recount results were announced in his race, which shrunk the margin of victory for his opponent. His legal team has argued that the results — which then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) knew before trial — were withheld from the court.

The defendants in the case argue that Hobbs wasn’t allowed to disclose the results of the recount before the court overseeing the recount announced them.

During the hearing Tuesday, Hamadeh’s attorney James Sabalos argued that a sample of ballots needs to be reviewed to find undervotes, which are ballots that didn’t have a candidate selected for the attorney general’s race, because some ballots were misread as undervotes. 

There were more than 76,000 undervotes in the attorney general election, and about 2,000 ballots were inspected, with 0.61% ballots misread, Sabalos continued. Applying that rate statewide, that would mean 466 or more votes in the race weren’t correctly counted for Hamadeh, he added.

Former Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright noted that there are electronic images of ballots that can be filtered to examine only ballots with undervotes for the attorney general election.

Wright also contended that counting provisional ballots cast on Election Day by high-propensity voters whose voter registrations were canceled would also break for Hamadeh.

The former assistant attorney general previously told Just the News that provisional ballots are typically cast by first-time or low-propensity voters who aren't fully aware of all the requirements to vote. However, she argued that some voters were disenfranchised in the Arizona 2022 midterms because their voter registrations were canceled after they were automatically registered in two counties without their knowledge. 

She also explained that it's common for Arizonans to have two properties and if they register a vehicle at their secondary property with the motor vehicles department, there is a pre-checked box on a form for that process that moves a person's voter registration to the new location.

Regarding the more than 1,100 provisional ballots cast by high-propensity voters, Wright argued in court on Tuesday that counting those alone would give Hamadeh a win over Mayes by 165 votes.

The legal counsel for the defendants argued on Tuesday that Hamadeh’s case doesn’t have enough evidence to go to trial and that he wants to perform his own recount, after the state already counted one.

The judge said that he would decide on the case in the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile, in Kari Lake’s election contest for the Arizona gubernatorial race, the judge rejected the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case on Monday, allowing the lawsuit to begin its three-day trial on Wednesday.

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