Judge dismisses Kari Lake’s final claim in election loss for Arizona governor

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Kari Lake exits Maricopa County Superior Court after hearing closing arguments by attorneys at her election challenge trial in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday, May 19, 2023. A judge on Monday, May 22, dismissed the only remaining legal claim in the Republican’s challenge of her loss in last year's race for Arizona governor, affirming the election of Democrat Katie Hobbs. (Joel Angel Juarez/The Arizona Republic via AP)

A judge on Monday dismissed the only remaining legal claim in Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her loss in last year’s race for Arizona governor, affirming the election of Democrat Katie Hobbs.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter A. Thompson said Lake failed to prove her claim that Maricopa County did not verify signatures on mail ballots as required by law.

Lake was among the most vocal of last year’s Republican candidates promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, which she made the centerpiece of her campaign. She has built a loyal following among Trump supporters and is openly considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kyrsten Sinema, an independent and former Democrat. Lake is also often mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Trump.

While most other election deniers around the country conceded after losing their races in November, Lake did not. She has touted her legal battle in fundraising appeals and speeches around the country.

Lake did not immediately comment on the ruling.

She filed suit after losing to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes, asking the courts to install her as governor or order a new election. Thompson dismissed the case, but the Arizona Supreme Court revived a claim that challenges how signature verification procedures were used on early ballots in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of the state’s voters. County officials had defended the signature verification efforts and said they had nothing to hide.

Lake’s signature verification claim was the subject of a three-day trial. Her lawyers argued that there was evidence that lower-level screeners who found inconsistencies in signatures ran them up the chain of command, where they were neglected by higher-level verifiers.

She did not contest whether voters’ signatures on ballot envelopes matched those in their voting records.

The former TV anchor faced a high bar in proving not only her allegation over signature verification efforts but also that it affected the outcome of her race.

Thompson, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, said she did not meet that high bar.

“The evidence the Court received does not support Plaintiff’s remaining claim,” he wrote.

Earlier in her lawsuit, Lake had focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County. The defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places. Lines were backed up in some areas amid the confusion. Lake alleged ballot printer problems were the result of intentional misconduct.

County officials say everyone had a chance to vote, and all ballots were counted because those affected by the printers were taken to more sophisticated counters at election headquarters.

In mid-February, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected Lake’s assertions, concluding she presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were unable to vote.

The following month, the state Supreme Court declined to hear nearly all of Lake’s appeal, saying there was no evidence to support her claim that more than 35,000 ballots were added to vote totals.

Earlier this month, the court sanctioned Lake’s lawyers $2,000 for making false statements when saying that more than 35,000 ballots had been improperly added to the total count.

Republished with the permission of The Associated Press.