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Attorney for Arizona Gov.-Elect Hobbs says opponent's claims that election was rigged are false

The warehouse at the Maricopa County Elections Department stores all the equipment and signage for all the voting precincts in Phoenix on Sept. 8, 2022.
Ross D. Franklin
The warehouse at the Maricopa County Elections Department stores all the equipment and signage for all the voting precincts in Phoenix on Sept. 8, 2022.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Claims by failed Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake that the general election was rigged and that printer issues were caused by "intentional misconduct'' are little more than speculation and should be dismissed, the attorney for Katie Hobbs, her successful Democratic foe argued Thursday.

In new legal filings, Alexis Danneman told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson that Arizona law requires people like Lake who challenge election results to demonstrate either fraud or that official misconduct or illegal votes altered the outcome of the race.

"Lake cannot show either,'' Danneman said. "Instead of alleging actual facts and real numbers, Lake's contest rests of rank speculation and a cynical mistrust of Arizona's election officials.''

And she also told Thompson the fact that the Secretary of State's Office, run by Hobbs, had successfully requested that Twitter remove incorrect election information from its site nearly two years before the race did not, as Lake alleges, interfere with anyone's free speech rights.

Hobbs is not alone in asking the judge to toss out Lake's lawsuit.

In a separate filing, attorneys for Maricopa County lashed out at Lake's contention in her lawsuit that the failures some printers at vote centers to produce ballots that could be read by on-site tabulators "could not have occurred absent intentional misconduct.''

In essence, the county's lawyers told Thompson, Lake is alleging the printer issues had to be intentionally caused because they occurred on Election Day when it was known that more Republicans turn out to vote in person than Democrats who vote in larger percentages by early ballot.

"But plaintiff fails to identify who the intentional actor was, what action that actor undertook to affect the ballot-on-demand printers, or when or where the action occurred,'' wrote the team of assistant county attorneys. "It is nothing more than speculation about the root cause of acknowledged technical issues that occurred on Election Day.''

Danneman went a step farther in telling the judge he should ignore Lake's claim that the printer problems, having occurred on Election Day, were the result of foul play.

"By this standard, any issue'' which occurred at polling places on Election Day was the result of an intentional action against Lake,'' she said.

"That inference is absurd,'' Danneman said. "All elections have flaws, and, understandably, many of those issues are not revealed until Election Day.''

The issues with the printers in Maricopa County has been a focal point not just in Lake's legal challenge to the election but also in the claims of Mark Finchem, the losing candidate for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh who the final tally showed losing the race for attorney general.

They arose because the county uses vote centers, allowing any person to cast a ballot at any location. That requires a printer at each site which can produce a unique ballot with only the races on which that person can vote.

But printers at multiple locations failed to produce ballots that could be read by the on-site scanners. Voters then were given the option of depositing them into a sealed drawer to be tallied later at a central site or going to another location.

That, however, produced problems of its own if the voter was not properly "checked out'' of the first site, with the county records at the new site showing that person already had cast a ballot. And Lake said others, discouraged by waiting lines, simply gave up.

Danneman said there is no proof, however, that anyone was was denied the right to vote, pointing out each had that option to simply deposit the ballot into the sealed box for tallying later.

"The fact that some voters had 'strong preferences' to have their ballots tabulated on site is beside the point,'' she told Thompson. And Danneman pointed out that while Lake produced affidavits from voters alleging difficulty at the polls, almost every one of them actually cast a ballot.

"Indeed, she identifies by name only one individual who said she did not vote as a result of long lines,'' Danneman said.

Andrew Gaona, representing Hobbs separately in her role as secretary of state -- she was sued by Lake both in that capacity and as the winning candidate -- made similar arguments.

"Plaintiff has not alleged that the Election Day issues were caused by a deliberate policy decision by a governmental body,'' he told Thompson. And he said there are no claims that anyone was intentionally denied the right to vote.

"That in-person voting proved harder than expected, and that some voters may have been discouraged from voting altogether, does not automatically equate to denial of the right to vote,'' Gaona said.

The bottom line, Danneman said, is that Lake's bid to overturn the election "rests on speculation about what might have been had those technical malfunctions not occurred.'' And that goes to one key element that she said Lake needs to prove: The problems, had they not occurred, would have affected the outcome of the election.

"Even if this court could add hypothetical votes to the count after the election -- which there is no precedent for -- Lake does not come close to showing the result would have been different in a race separated by over 17,000 votes,'' Danneman said.

That claim by Lake of free speech being stifled extends beyond the fact that an aide to Hobbs asked Twitter in January 2001 to remove a post that alleged voter rolls were being controlled by a foreign corporation. She also said that Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer "participated directly in a propaganda and censoring program at the national level at (the) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency through the 2022 election cycle."

"Hobbs and Richer are striving to secretly stifle facts and manipulate voters' opinions about elections -- while at the same time allowing or participating in the violations of Arizona election laws,'' Lake's lawsuit claims.

Lawyers for the county, however, called it "ludicrous'' for Lake to claim that an election official speaking at a meeting convened by a task force of government and private security professionals somehow violates the First Amendment.

And they said even if the presentation did violate the First Amendment, which they are not conceding, none of that constitutes illegal votes, an erroneous vote count or misconduct by election boards, the kinds of things that need to be shown in any bid to void election results.