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An Arizona judge has ruled against Republican Kari Lake’s election challenge, effectively confirming Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as the state’s next governor Saturday.
Fox 10 Phoenix first reported the news Christmas Eve.
Lake has until 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 to respond and any motion will need to be submitted by 8 a.m.
“It is ordered: confirming the election of Katie Hobbs as Arizona governor-elect,” Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, wrote in Saturday’s ruling.
Lawyers for the state argued Thursday Lake did not offer evidence to back her claims of widespread, intentional misconduct on Election Day at her two-day trial challenging her loss to Hobbs in Arizona gubernatorial race.
Lake also never established her claim printer problems at Maricopa County polling places were intentional acts that would have changed the race’s outcome had they not occurred, according to Hobbs attorney Abha Khanna. Hobbs won the race by just around 17,000 votes.
Kurt Olsen, one of Lake’s attorneys, said officials tried to downplay the effects of the printer problems in Maricopa County.
“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.”
Lake faced extremely long odds in her challenge, needing to prove not only that misconduct occurred, but also it was intended to deny her victory and did in fact result in the wrong woman being declared the winner.
Outside the courthouse after the proceedings, Lake had said her attorneys proved their case.
“We 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. “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.”
Her lawyers focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of voters. The defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places. Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion.
County officials say everyone had a chance to vote and all ballots were counted, adding ballots affected by printer issues were taken to more sophisticated counters at the elections department headquarters.
Lake’s attorneys also claim the chain of custody for ballots was broken at an off-site facility, where a contractor scans mail ballots to prepare them for processing. The county disputed that claim.
Lake had asked the judge to either declare her the winner or order a revote in Maricopa County.
Her attorneys pointed to a witness who examined ballots on behalf of her campaign and discovered 14 ballots that had 19-inch images of the ballot printed on 20-inch paper, meaning the ballots would not be read by a tabulator. The witness insisted someone changed those printer configurations, a claim disputed by elections officials.
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County officials say the ballot images were slightly smaller as a result of a shrink-to-fit feature being selected on a printer by a tech employee who was looking for solutions to Election Day issues. They say about 1,200 ballots were affected by turning on the feature and those ballots were duplicated so they could be read by a tabulator. Ultimately, these ballots were counted, officials said.
Lake’s last witness was Richard Baris, a pollster who conducted exit polling in Arizona and claimed technical problems at polling places had disenfranchised enough voters that it would have changed the outcome of the race in Lake’s favor.
Baris claimed 25,000 to 40,000 people who would normally have voted actually did not cast ballots as a result of Election Day problems — and the voters that day were more likely to support Lake. Baris said his estimate was primarily influenced by the number of people who started answering his exit poll but did not finish the process.
Hobbs takes office as governor Jan. 2.