Kari Lake brings new evidence in hearing as Maricopa County, Hobbs, Fontes seek to dismiss case
Kari Lake's legal team alleged that 58% of Maricopa County's 446 ballot tabulators failed logic and accuracy testing before Election Day.
As Kari Lake's legal team provided new evidence in its Arizona gubernatorial election challenge during a court hearing on Friday, counsel for defendants Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) and Maricopa County election officials sought to dismiss the case.
Last Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court ordered court proceedings to take place "forthwith" regarding Lake's claim that Maricopa County's violated its signature verification practices in last year's general election. The court granted one sanction but denied the attorneys' fees defendants had requested.
Lake, the Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee, fell about 17,000 votes short in the 2022 election against then-Secretary of State Hobbs. She is suing Hobbs, the current Democratic governor, in addition to Fontes and Maricopa County election officials, requesting that the election results be invalidated or that she be declared the winner.
Lake's legal team filed a motion for relief from judgment on Tuesday for Count II, which was previously dismissed by both that trial court and the Arizona Supreme Court, concerning alleged illegal ballot-on-demand printer and tabulator configurations.
The filing alleges that on Oct. 11, 2022, Maricopa County falsely certified the 446 ballot tabulators used for Election Day, saying they passed logic and accuracy testing. In addition, Maricopa County allegedly "secretly tested all 446 vote center tabulators on October 14th, 17th, and 18th, and knew that 260 of the vote center tabulators would fail on Election Day," according to the motion.
Lake's legal counsel also alleged that Maricopa County Director of Elections Scott Jarrett gave false testimony during the trial in December regarding the ballot-on-demand printer failures that occurred on Election Day. Specifically, he said only three vote centers experienced issues with the printers and that it "was caused by temporary technicians changing printer settings in attempt to fix printer problems on Election Day," the filing said.
During the hearing on Friday, Lake's legal counsel cited a new declaration by Jarrett that Maricopa County submitted, saying that, after the certification of the ballot tabulators on Oct. 11, the county realized that they hadn't configured the ballot tabulators to reject provisional ballots. As a result, the county "went in, rewrote the memory cards, improved the software," and "reconfigured" the tabulator machines, said Lake's lawyer. This meant that the county had to conduct logic and accuracy testing again, argued Lake's counsel.
Her team also noted that 58% of the ballot tabulators failed logic and accuracy testing and that, according to "testimony of over 200 witnesses who were voters at vote centers, 59% of Maricopa County vote centers experienced severe malfunctions of tabulators."
The defendants' legal team argued that Lake was seeking inappropriate relief for her allegations and that Jarrett's declaration wasn't a "shocking bombshell" or proof of a violation of the logic and accuracy testing requirement. Instead, the security feature to prevent provisional or early ballots from being tabulated by the machines was installed on Oct. 10 onto the sampling of tabulators that were to undergo logic and accuracy testing, which they passed on Oct. 11. Then, the security feature that passed testing on Oct. 11 was installed on the rest of the tabulators.
The legal counsel for Hobbs and Maricopa County also argued for the dismissal of the case regarding Count III, which was remanded to the trial court by the state Supreme Court. The lawyers argued that Lake's team didn't meet the mathematical standard for the number of ballots affected to bring the election results into question and that Maricopa County's signature reviewers followed procedure in the early ballot signature verification process.
The trial is set for May 17-19 at the Maricopa County Superior Court, if the judge rejects the defendants' motion to dismiss the case.
Lake's case was reviewed by the Arizona Supreme Court in March, which remanded one of her seven counts to trial court and allowed sanctions against her to be considered. The remanded count was Lake's claim that Maricopa County violated its signature verification policies in the 2022 election.
The signature verification allegation was remanded to the Maricopa County Superior Court, which was waiting on the high court to determine if she must pay sanctions to Hobbs and Fontes regarding her claim of 35,563 unaccounted early ballots being added to Maricopa County's final tally.
The state Supreme Court last week denied the defendants' requests for attorneys' fees as sanctions but granted their request of $2,000 in sanctions against Lake's counsel for "asserting 'the undisputed fact that 35,563 unaccounted for ballots were added to the total number of ballots,' and for repeating such false assertions in an additional filing in this proceeding," according to the ruling.