(Headline USA) Arizona’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, made her case in court Friday that she also is the state’s rightful governor-elect after proving that Maricopa County’s corrupt election officials conspired on Election Day to throw the race for her far-left opponent, Katie Hobbs, who also happens to be the state’s top election official.
“Our elections are a mess in this country, and I am so happy to stand up and say no longer will we as Americans put up with this,” Lake said in a statement at the conclusion of the two-day hearing.
“We demand fair, honest, transparent elections, and we will get them,” she continued. “And I pray so hard for this judge. I think that he really took in all of that information. I think he listened very closely to what happened.”
Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, didn’t say when he would issue a ruling.
Lake needed to prove not only that misconduct occurred, but also that 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 said her attorneys did just that.
“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.
Kurt Olsen, one of Lake’s attorneys, said county officials tried to downplay the effects of the printer problems.
“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.”
Despite admitting in court that they had used the wrong size ballots on Election Day, county officials insisted that everyone had a chance to vote and that all ballots were counted.
They claimed ballots affected by printer issues were taken to more sophisticated counters at the elections department headquarters.
But Lake’s team noted the appearance of some 25,000 new ballots 25,000 new ballots that were mysteriously added to the final count in the week it took Maricopa to issue its final tally as evidence that the closed-door tabulation process was compromised.
Lake’s attorneys also argued that 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 disputes that claim.
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 wouldn’t be read by a tabulator. The witness said someone changed those printer configurations, a claim disputed by elections officials.
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 claimed only about 1,200 ballots were affected by turning on the feature and that those ballots were duplicated so that they could be read by a tabulator. Ultimately, these ballots were counted, officials said.
But Lake’s own analyisis, based on a random sample, indicated that 42.5% of all Maricopa ballots were invalid.
During the trial, a lawyer for Hobbs was humiliated while trying to argue that “invalid” did not necessarily mean that the ballots were illegal.
Lake’s last witness was Richard Baris, a pollster who conducted exit polling in Arizona and said technical problems at polling places had disenfranchised enough voters that it would have changed the outcome of the race in Lake’s favor.
Baris said that 25,000 to 40,000 people who would normally have voted actually didn’t cast ballots as a result of Election Day problems—and that 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 didn’t finish the process.
Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who testified on behalf of election officials, said Baris’ claim was “a series of assumptions and speculation.”
Thompson had previously dismissed eight of the 10 claims Lake raised in her lawsuit.
Among those were Lake’s allegation that Hobbs, in her capacity as secretary of state, and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen RicherStephen Richer engaged in censorship by flagging social media posts with election misinformation for possible removal by Twitter.
He also dismissed Lake’s claims of discrimination against Republicans and that mail-in voting procedures are illegal.
Pending the outcome of the trial, Hobbs is expected to take office as governor on Jan. 2.
Meanwhile, a trial is scheduled Friday in Republican Abraham Hamadeh’s challenge of his narrow defeat to Democrat Kris Mayes in the Arizona attorney general’s race. Hamadeh, who reportedly lost by 511 votes, alleges in his lawsuit that problems with printers in Maricopa County led to issues involving disenfranchised voters.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press