By Jack Phillips
Arizona GOP candidate Kari Lake released a statement Thursday saying that her lawyers proved that there was “malicious intent” that caused disruption during Maricopa County’s Nov. 8 election, although lawyers for Arizona’s Secretary of State office and Maricopa County argued that she didn’t offer any evidence of alleged fraud or misconduct.
Abha Khanna, a lawyer representing Hobbs, told the courtroom in Maricopa County that Lake’s attorneys have not established whether printer problems on Election Day were intentional acts that would have changed the race’s outcome had they not occurred. At the trial’s closing arguments Thursday, Khanna said Lake’s claims were based on hearsay, speculation, and theatrics.
“What we got instead was just loose threads and gaping plot holes. We know now that her story was a work of fiction,” Khanna said.
But Kurt Olsen, one of Lake’s attorneys, said officials tried to downplay the effects of the printer problems in Maricopa County. On Nov. 8, County Supervisor Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer announced during a news conference that there were printer errors at dozens of polling locations countywide, telling voters to either drop their ballots inside drop-boxes or go to another polling location.
“This is about trust, your honor,” Olsen said. “It’s about restoring people’s trust. There is not a person that’s watching this thing that isn’t shaking their head now.”
Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, did not say when he would issue a ruling on the case.
Following the two-day trial, Lake told reporters that she believes her attorneys presented a case that would potentially change the outcome of the election. A lawsuit Lake filed earlier this month called for either a redo of the election in Maricopa County or to declare her the victor over Hobbs, a Democrat.
‘Without a Shadow of a Doubt’
“We provided expert testimony. We provided experts. The other side brought in activists to try to save face. They admitted that they’ve known about these ballot problems. They’re ballot problems,” Lake said.
Her lawyers “proved without a shadow of a doubt that there was malicious intent that caused disruption so great it changed the results of the election,” Lake said, adding, “We demand fair, honest, transparent elections, and we will get them. And I pray so hard for this judge.”
At one point during the trial, Lake’s attorneys pointed to a witness who found that 14 of 15 duplicate ballots he had inspected on their behalf had 19-inch images of the ballot printed on 20-inch paper, meaning the ballots wouldn’t be read by a tabulator. The witness testified that such a change would have required a change to printer configurations, although election officials disputed those assertions.
Lake also called on pollster Richard Baris, who told the court that he believes technical problems at polling places had disenfranchised enough voters that it would have changed the outcome of the race in Lake’s favor. Baris noted that Election Day voters in Maricopa mostly trended Republican.
Baris stated that 25,000 to 40,000 people who would normally have voted actually didn’t cast ballots as a result of Election Day problems, saying that his estimate was primarily influenced by the number of people who started answering his exit poll but didn’t finish the process.
“The bottom line here is that those who said they would cast their vote by mail or drop their ballot off by mail completed their questionnaire at a 93 percent rate,” Baris said, adding that “the rate for Election Day voters was only 72 percent. I can tell you that has never happened to me before, ever.”
Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is not a pollster involved in the race, claimed that Baris was engaging in making “assumptions and speculation.”
Earlier in the week, Thompson allowed Lake’s case to go to trial but dismissed eight out of 10 claims brought by Lake’s team. The judge ruled that the dismissed charges didn’t meet the criteria to bring election challenges under Arizona law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.