Kari Lake Will Present Election Fraud Claims in an Arizona County Court
Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona who made false election claims the centerpiece of her campaign, is starting a two-day trial on Wednesday as she presses to have her loss overturned.
Ms. Lake lost by around 17,000 votes to Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state, but sued Maricopa County and Ms. Hobbs to overturn the results under Arizona’s election contest statutes. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge is allowing two of her claims of misconduct by election officials to go forward, but eight other claims were dismissed. A ruling is likely soon afterward.
In a separate election case in Mohave County, the Republican candidate for attorney general, Abraham Hamadeh, will present evidence on Friday. The November election ended with Mr. Hamadeh trailing Kris Mayes, the Democratic nominee, by 511 votes, within the margin that requires a mandatory statewide recount that is going on now.
Lawyers for Ms. Hobbs and Maricopa County have been warning that such trials could become a free-for-all for election conspiracy theorists. Ms. Lake has indicated that she may call as witnesses people who have been pushing false or misleading claims related to Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election.
There is, however, a high bar to proving election misconduct that could have swayed the results.
“The court has given an opportunity to put them to the test,” said Abha Khanna, a lawyer for Ms. Hobbs. “If you think you have proof something happened and that proof doesn’t exist, and they’re not able to prove it in this court, I hope we could put to bed the idea that there’s something lurking out there.”
The Aftermath of the 2022 Midterm Elections
A moment of reflection. In the aftermath of the midterms, Democrats and Republicans face key questions about the future of their parties. With the House and Senate now decided, here’s where things stand:
Biden’s tough choice. President Biden, who had the best midterms of any president in 20 years as Democrats maintained a narrow hold on the Senate, feels buoyant after the results. But as he nears his 80th birthday, he confronts a decision on whether to run again.
Is Trump’s grip loosening? Ignoring Republicans’ concerns that he was to blame for the party’s weak midterms showing, Donald J. Trump announced his third bid for the presidency. But some of his staunchest allies are already inching away from him.
G.O.P leaders face dissent. After a poor midterms performance, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell faced threats to their power from an emboldened right flank. Will the divisions in the party’s ranks make the G.O.P.-controlled House an unmanageable mess?
A new era for House Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve in the post and the face of House Democrats for two decades, will not pursue a leadership post in the next Congress, paving the way for fresher faces at the top of the party.
Divided government. What does a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-run Senate mean for the next two years? Most likely a return to the gridlock and brinkmanship that have defined a divided federal government in recent years.
Dan Barr, a lawyer for Ms. Mayes, said he was confident about prevailing but concerned about moving to this step. “The evidentiary burden on Hamadeh is very high, and it’s unlikely he’ll get anywhere close to it, but it’s corrosive to the whole system,” he said.
Ms. Lake and right-wing allies on Tuesday presented the move to trial as a victory in itself. “My attorneys feel very confident we have a good case,” she said in an interview with Charlie Kirk, a right-wing talk show host from Arizona.
Since her loss, Ms. Lake has presented her cause for overturning the results as carrying on the mantle of the election denial movement. She has been joined by allies of Mr. Trump, including Mike Lindell, a central figure among election conspiracy theorists, who says he is helping fund Ms. Lake’s challenge.
Her case had relied on a hodgepodge of claims that the election in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, was corrupted and should be invalidated. In an order Monday night, Judge Peter Thompson of Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed most of those claims and narrowed the others.
Of her initial 10 claims, Judge Thompson said Ms. Lake could bring two issues to trial. In one, she would have to prove that an election official purposely caused ballot printers in Maricopa County to malfunction in an effort to sway the election and that the results changed because of it. While acknowledging the printer problems, the county contends that no one was unable to vote as a result.
In one court filing, the county pointed out that despite 220 statements from people purporting to be voters that were provided by the Lake campaign, only three were from people who said they had not cast ballots and that none of those people had been prevented from doing so but rather had decided they didn’t want to wait or go to a different voting place.
The second issue that Ms. Lake can present at trial is an allegation that employees at a company working under a contract with the elections department added completed ballots to be counted without following proper chain-of-custody procedures, which the county disputes. Judge Thompson said in his order that Ms. Lake would have to prove an intentional lack of compliance that swayed the election.
To bring the case, Ms. Lake is relying on an assortment of people who have long been involved in unfounded election claims. Her lawyer, Kurt Olsen, works frequently for Mr. Lindell and helped bring an unsuccessful legal challenge in an effort to overturn the 2020 results.
One witness Ms. Lake plans to call, Clay Parikh, has spoken at election denial events organized by Mr. Lindell and served as an expert witness in a failed federal lawsuit, backed financially by Mr. Lindell, that Mr. Olsen brought on behalf of Ms. Lake in an effort to block the use of voting machines before the election.
In Mr. Hamadeh’s case, the candidate wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the court’s ruling was “a small step toward restoring confidence in our electoral process.”
A judge said on Tuesday that most of Mr. Hamadeh’s claims could continue. They include allegations that provisional ballots and some votes were not properly counted for various reasons in ways that might affect a small number of votes. (The county says that the claims rely on various misinterpretations or misunderstandings and that the votes were properly tallied.)
Ken Bensinger contributed reporting.