The GOP candidates for three statewide positions in Arizona have filed lawsuits challenging the state’s election results after all three narrowly outperformed their Democratic opponents in close races in last month’s midterm elections.
Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor, Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general, filed the challenges Friday, four days after the state confirmed the vote and most of the winners had declared races, including the gubernatorial and senatorial contests.
In the race for governor, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) defeated Lake by about 0.6 points. In the competition for the post of foreign minister, the Democrat defeated Adrian Fontes Finchem by almost 5 points.
Democrat Kris Mayes led Hamadeh by 511 votes at the time of certification, but that race will be recounted as Mayes leads by less than 0.1 points. Arizona law requires that each race automatically come to a recount if the lead is within 0.5 points.
Recounts began Wednesday for the Attorney General Race, State Superintendent Race and a State House Race.
Candidates also have five days after confirmation to formally challenge the outcome of an election in court.
Lake sued Hobbs and the Maricopa County clerk, board of directors, and election commissioner in their official capacities following controversies over the state’s election process.
Certain polling stations in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is the state’s most populous, had problems with ballot printers where the ink was too light for tabs to read. Election officials addressed the issue on Election Day by allowing voters to wait in line until the issue was resolved, cast another ballot at a different polling center, or put their ballot in a separate box to be counted later .
However, Lake’s campaign argued that some of the affected voters’ ballots were not being counted due to improper checkout procedures and mixing up of ballots. The campaign asked a state judge on Election Day to extend voting in the district, but the judge denied the request because he said he saw no evidence anyone had been denied the opportunity to vote.
Lake, who has refused to give in to Hobbs, said in her lawsuit that the number of “illegal votes” cast in the race “far exceeds” the roughly 17,000 vote margin that Hobbs has. She alleged that thousands of Republican voters were disenfranchised due to “election misconduct” in Maricopa County.
She claimed printer errors had occurred at more than 130 of the 223 voting centers in the county, but the county suggested only 70 experienced the problem.
Lake said Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-to-1 and are therefore disproportionately affected by the printer problem. She said thousands of Republican voters gave up voting because of long waits or avoided the election after hearing about the “chaos”.
Lake previously sued Maricopa County election officials to demand answers to their public record inquiries about Election Day mechanical problems.
Finchem — along with Jeff Zink, the Republican nominee for Arizona’s 3rdapprox Congressional District – Filed its lawsuit against Fontes, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Hobbs. Gallego easily defeated Zink in their home race to represent the 3approx District that includes portions of Maricopa County.
Finchem and Zink argued in their filing that voters were being offered “weak and unsatisfactory” alternatives to the Maricopa County machines. They said the votes, which were deposited in the separate box to be counted later, were probably never counted.
They also noted that the state’s chief election official who oversaw the election, Hobbs, was also running for governor at the same time. They said she should have retired, but she refused.
“A walkout would result in her losing control of the election she hoped to directly benefit from – a stunning display of impropriety and a display of unethical behavior,” they said.
Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee (RNC) lawsuit, filed against Hobbs and each county in Arizona, differs from Lake and Finchem’s lawsuit in that it expressly states that the plaintiffs did not commit fraud, manipulation or other premeditated fraud Misconduct of those concerned claim the result of the race.
However, they said there were “certain errors and inaccuracies” in the management of polling stations and the tabulation of some ballots. The lawsuit alleges that on at least seven counts, election officials unlawfully withheld voting from certain qualified individuals, miscounted certain ballots, and included certain illegal votes in the running for attorney general.
Some of the examples Hamadeh cites are Maricopa County officials disqualifying early ballots from voters marked as already voted due to poll worker error, and all county election officials mistabbling voter selection when certain ballots could not be counted electronically.
Hamadeh and the RNC filed the lawsuit last month after initial results were in, but a state judge dismissed it, ruling that it was filed early. The judge said an electoral contest could only be filed after the results were confirmed, but did not examine the merits of their arguments.
The judge noted that Hamadeh and the RNC did not have to wait until the recount was complete to resubmit.
“By 511 votes out of 2.5 million, our race is the closest statewide race in Arizona history and is currently being recounted. Every legal vote deserves to be counted,” Hamadeh said in a statement after the lawsuit was refiled.