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Kari Lake sues Arizona’s largest county, seeking to overturn her defeat

Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor, speaks to supporters at the Republican watch party in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Nov. 8.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Kari Lake, the losing Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, filed a lawsuit Friday contesting the results of an election that was certified by the state this week.

Lake’s lawsuit came after she had spent weeks making a series of public statements and social media posts aimed at sowing doubt in the outcome of a contest she lost by more than 17,000 votes to her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs. That loss was certified in documents signed Monday by Hobbs, who currently serves as secretary of state.

A former news anchor, Lake centered her candidacy on false conspiratorial claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Donald Trump, who had endorsed her. For the past month, Lake, her campaign and other allies have been soliciting Election Day accounts from voters on social media and at rallies.

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“If the process was illegitimate, then so are the results,” Lake said on Twitter on Friday evening after announcing her lawsuit. “Stay tuned, folks.”

Hobbs called Lake’s suit “baseless” in a post of her own on Twitter, describing it as the “latest desperate attempt to undermine our democracy and throw out the will of the voters.”

Lake sued Hobbs as well as officials in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is Arizona’s largest county.

The suit claims that the election was corrupted in Maricopa County and that she should be declared the winner. The 70-page filing relies on a hodgepodge of allegations, ranging from voter and poll worker accounts to poll numbers claiming that voters agreed with Lake on the election’s mismanagement. Some of what is cited comes not from last month’s election but from the 2020 contest. Other allegations accuse officials of wrongdoing for taking part in efforts to try to tamp down election misinformation.

Fields Moseley, a spokesperson for Maricopa County, said the court system was the proper place for campaigns to make their case to challenge results.

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“Maricopa County respects the election contest process and looks forward to sharing facts about the administration of the 2022 general election and our work to ensure every legal voter had an opportunity to cast their ballot,” Moseley said.

A number of those cited as experts in the lawsuit and one of the lawyers who filed the case — Kurt Olsen — are part of a loose election-denial network led by Mike Lindell, a pillow company entrepreneur who has been pushing conspiracy theories about election machines since early 2021. Another Lake lawyer, Bryan Blehm, represented the contractor Cyber Ninjas during the partisan audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results last year and also represented supervisors in Cochise County this year in a lawsuit over an attempt to carry out a hand-counted audit plan.

Lake’s legal action came as lawsuits were also filed Friday by two other Arizona Republicans who lost their midterm elections: Mark Finchem, who ran for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh, the attorney general candidate. Hamadeh, who is trailing his opponent by 511 votes in a race that is undergoing a recount, was joined in his lawsuit by the Republican National Committee.

Hamadeh previously filed suit late last month seeking to overturn the election, but the suit was dismissed by a Maricopa County judge for being filed prematurely. His new suit — filed in Mohave County, a Republican stronghold where he won 75% of the vote — is more narrow than Lake’s, claiming that it is not questioning the election’s validity. But, as with Lake, Hamadeh is seeking an order overturning the election results and declaring him the winner, claiming he is not alleging widespread fraud but rather “certain errors and inaccuracies.” On Twitter late Friday, Hamadeh wrote that “Maricopa County faced unprecedented and unacceptable issues on Election Day.”

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Dan Barr, a lawyer for Hamadeh’s opponent, Kris Mayes, said the lawsuit was “based on speculation” and contained “no real facts.” He said he planned to file motions to dismiss it and move it to Maricopa County early next week.

Finchem, one of several secretary of state candidates around the country who denied the results of the 2020 presidential race, lost by more than 120,000 votes. In his suit, filed in Maricopa County, Finchem alleged that Arizona had “failed miserably” to administer a “full, fair, and secure election” and asked that the court declare the election “annulled” and name him the winner.

That suit was filed by Daniel McCauley, who also represented Cochise County in its recent failed attempt to deny certification of the election results.

One of Lake’s lawyers, Olsen, was also involved in an earlier federal lawsuit brought unsuccessfully on behalf of Lake and Finchem. It was filed before the Nov. 8 election, but earlier this month a federal judge found that it made “false, misleading and unsupported factual assertions” about election systems. The judge said those misleading assertions warranted sanctions. He said he would determine who among the lawyers involved in the case should be sanctioned at a later date.

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Olsen and Lake’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Finchem did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of the claims in Lake’s lawsuit centered on long lines and other problems on Election Day in Maricopa County that she alleges led to voter disenfranchisement.

Last month, The New York Times reviewed dozens of accounts from voters, poll workers and observers posted by Lake and her allies on social media or recounted in public hearings in the wake of the election. The review found that while they said they had been inconvenienced by the long wait lines, most voters specified that they had ultimately been able to cast their ballots.

County officials have said they responded to printer problems at around 30% of the county’s voting locations. The printer problem meant that on-site tabulators — the machines that count ballots — rejected some of those ballots. The county had provided a backup system that allowed voters to drop ballots in a secure box to be processed at a different location rather than by the tabulator on site.

But some voters’ mistrust of the voting systems led them to not want to use the ballot boxes. Officials say those voters were given other options, including voting elsewhere. The situation created long lines at some of the voting centers, but the county says that every person who wanted to cast a ballot was able to do so.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.