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Court agrees to hear Lake appeal

NPR/Lisa Sturgis, KAWC

Phoenix, Ariz. (CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES) - The state Court of Appeals will consider later this month whether to expedite a bid by Kari Lake to overturn the results of the gubernatorial election she lost by more than 17,000 votes.
A three-judge panel has set Jan. 24 to consider her "special action'' request. And they want a response from attorneys for now-Gov. Katie Hobbs by this coming Wednesday.

But that doesn't mean the judges will give Lake's attorneys the chance to argue to them directly on that date why she believes they should order what she calls "a new and fair election.''

If not, that leaves her to pursue a standard appeal. But the court won't hear that until at least March.

Lake, however, already is pushing ahead with an alternate plan. She is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to immediately intercede, bypassing the appellate court entirely, and decide whether Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson erred in rejecting her claims that there was misconduct in how the election was conducted.

Late Wednesday, however, the high court refused her plea. Justice John Lopez, the duty justice, noted the Jan. 24 meeting by the appellate judges, saying "no good cause appears to transfer the matter to this court.''

Her appeal consists largely of the same charges she made to Thompson that problems with printers on Election Day in Maricopa County depressed the votes of Republicans, people who Lake says would have voted for her. And she contends there is evidence that the problems which kept on-site tabulators from reading those ballots were the result of intentional misconduct by county election officials.

Lake also argues that the county violated state laws dealing with chain-of-custody requirements of ballots.

Thompson last month issued detailed finding on how all the testimony on behalf of the GOP gubernatorial hopeful provided no evidence to back her claim that she should have been declared the winner. And he said some of her theories about what went wrong and why, particularly with those ballot printers, simply were not backed by facts.

In her appeal, Lake contends that Thompson applied the wrong legal standards in reaching his conclusions.
She separately charges that Maricopa County counted early ballots where the signatures on the envelopes did not match the voter's registration file.

County officials said they did do a signature comparison, though they also used other documents they had on file, like a voter's request for an early ballot. And that, they said, complied with what is allowed in the Election Procedures Manual.

Thompson refused to allow her to even present evidence on this charge. He said the EPM and its procedures have been in place since 2019 and if Lake believed what is allowed there is not legal she should have filed that challenge before the election.

Lake told the Supreme Court justices there is good reason for them to immediately take the case, what with a new governor seated "under a cloud of electoral uncertainty and impropriety.''

"This action requires this court's speedy, final resolution, without resort to an intermediate decision by the Court of Appeals,'' her attorneys wrote.