Kari Lake's Last Legal Hail Mary Gets Underway

Arizona Supreme Court takes up signature verification on early ballots in Maricopa County
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 17, 2023 12:08 PM CDT
Kari Lake’s Final Legal Challenge Gets Underway
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers her state of the state address at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Jan. 9, 2023. A three-day trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 17, 2023, over the only remaining legal claim in Republican Kari Lake's challenge of her loss to Hobbs in the governor's race.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Kari Lake lost the race for the Arizona governor's mansion to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes in November. Six months later, her final legal challenge to the results gets underway Wednesday in the form of a three-day trial. As the AP reports, courts have dismissed most of her lawsuit, but the Arizona Supreme Court revived one claim that challenges whether signatures were properly verified on early ballots in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of the state’s voters. Lake alleges Maricopa County officials failed to perform higher-level signature verifications on mail-in ballots that had been flagged by lower-level screeners for any inconsistencies, and in a ruling Monday night, Superior Court Judge Peter A. Thompson refused to throw out Lake’s claim.

Three workers on lower-level signature verification who filed declarations in court on Lake’s behalf have said they experienced rejection rates due to mismatched signatures on 15% to 40% of the ballots they encountered. Attorneys for Arizona election officials said the workers’ speculation on signature verification efforts does not amount to a violation of the law or misconduct by election workers—and raised questions about whether the three workers could know the outcome of the specific ballots they had flagged. Lake isn’t contesting whether voters’ signatures on ballot envelopes matched those in their voting records. Lake faces a high bar in proving not only her allegation over signature verification efforts but also that it affected the outcome of her race.

County officials say they have nothing to hide and are confident that they will prevail in court. Lake’s lawyers say there was a flood of mail-in ballots in Maricopa County at a time when there were too few workers to verify ballot signatures. Her attorneys say the county ultimately accepted thousands of ballots that had been rejected earlier by workers for having mismatched signatures. By reviving the claim, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that found Lake waited too long to raise it. Earlier in her lawsuit, Lake had focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County.

(More Kari Lake stories.)

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