GOP Attorney General Candidate’s Election Challenge Can Go to Trial: Arizona Judge
GOP Attorney General Candidate’s Election Challenge Can Go to Trial: Arizona Judge

By Katabella Roberts

An  Arizona judge on Tuesday ruled that a lawsuit filed by Republican Abraham Hamadeh challenging the results of the election for attorney general can proceed.

Hamadeh lost to Democrat Kris Mayes by 511 votes out of 2.5 million ballots.

Along with the Republican National Committee, Hamadeh filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County court on Nov. 22 against his opponent alleging “errors and inaccuracies” at voting locations during the election process and requesting “judicial intervention” to ensure the candidate who “received the highest number of lawful votes is declared the next Arizona Attorney General.”

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen said in a filing on Tuesday that Hamadeh can attempt to prove his case during a trial scheduled for Friday and can inspect ballots in Maricopa, Pima, and Navajo counties.

“This case is different … because the Plaintiff is not alleging political motives or fraud or personal agendas being pushed. It is simply alleging misconduct by mistake, or omission by election officials, led to erroneous count of votes and which if true could have led to an uncertain result,”  Judge Jantzen said in the filing (pdf).

Maricopa County Acknowledges Issues

Hamadeh, in his lawsuit, alleged that officials in at least 15 counties have “caused the unlawful denial of the franchise to certain qualified electors, erroneously tallied certain ballots, and included for tabulation in the canvass certain illegal votes in connection with the election for the office of Arizona Attorney General.”

The Republican candidate further claimed that some election workers were not aware of the process that was supposed to be adopted when it came to the use of a secure ballot box and “check out” procedures at polling stations on Election Day, while printer malfunctions in Maricopa County further exacerbated issues, resulting in an unknown number of rejected ballots.

Maricopa County officials this month acknowledged issues with printers that surfaced on Election Day and which printed ballots that were too light for tabulators to read.

“This pervasive and systematic error directly and proximately resulted in three recurring scenarios in which qualified electors were unlawfully and unconstitutionally disenfranchised,” Hamadeh wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit further claims that as many as 1,942 provisional ballots were left uncounted in Maricopa County despite voters having filled them out, while improperly adjudicated and duplicated ballots resulted in votes being counted incorrectly.

Judge Jantzen on Tuesday dismissed Hamadeh’s claim that the procedures for handling mail ballots are unconstitutional, adding that the claim should have been bought prior to the election.

Republican candidate for state attorney general Abraham Hamadeh, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Republican U.S. senatorial candidate Blake Masters wave to supporters at the conclusion of a campaign event on the eve of the primary at the Duce bar in Phoenix, Ariz., on Aug. 1, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Hamadeh ‘Has a High Burden to Meet’ to Get Election Overturned’

“The procedure in the EPM being challenged has been in place since 2019 and should not be the subject of a post-election challenge,” the judge noted.

He also dismissed Hamadeh’s claim that the use of election documents other than the voter registration forms led to votes being illegally accepted.

Finally, the judge noted that Hamadeh has a difficult task ahead of him to prove each claim of misconduct during the election and that the alleged misconduct did, in fact, influence the results of the attorney general race.

“Plaintiff has a high burden to meet in order to have an election overturned. The Court must make these determinations based on facts and not mere conclusions,” Jantzen wrote. “However, at this stage in the unique proceedings of an election contest, the Court finds the Plaintiff has the right to present its case and even gather additional information.”

Mayes has said that Hamadeh’s election challenge is based on threadbare allegations and speculation.”

Jantzen stopped short of commenting on the merits of the claims made by Hamadeh in his lawsuit.

The judge’s green light for Hamadeh’s lawsuit comes after a Maricopa County, Arizona judge ruled this week that two out of 10 claims brought by Republican Kari Lake challenging the results of the gubernatorial election can go to trial.

Lake lost to Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs in the race but has argued that “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots” were cast in Maricopa County during the election and that voters were disenfranchised on Nov. 8 due to reports of widespread polling issues in Maricopa County. Lake is seeking to be declared the winner.

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