Judge Rules Against Kari Lake, Confirms Hobbs as Next Arizona Governor

A judge in Arizona has ruled against Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in her election challenge, confirming Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as the state’s new governor.

“It is ordered: confirming the election of Katie Hobbs as Arizona governor-elect,” wrote Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson in Saturday’s ruling.

State lawyers argued Thursday that Lake didn’t offer evidence to back her claims of intentional, widespread misconduct on Election Day at her two-day trial that challenged her loss to Hobbs in the state’s race for governor.

Additionally, Lake didn’t establish her claim printer problems at polling places in Maricopa County were intentional acts that would have changed the race’s outcome if they had not occurred, according to Abha Khanna, Hobbs’ attorney. Hobbs only won the race by around 17,000 votes.

One of Lake’s attorneys, Kurt Olsen, said officials tried to downplay the printer problems’ effects in Maricopa County.

“This is about trust, your honor,” said Olsen. “It’s about restoring people’s trust. There is not a person that’s watching this thing that isn’t shaking their head now.”

Lake faced long odds in her challenge, not only needing to prove that misconduct occurred but also that it was meant to deny her victory and did result in the wrong candidate being declared the winner.

After the proceedings, outside the courthouse, Lake said her attorneys proved their case. “We proved without a shadow of a doubt that there was malicious intent that caused disruption so great it changed the election results. 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,” said Lake.

County officials maintain all ballots were counted

Lawyers focused on issues with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, where more than 60% of voters reside. The defective printers printed ballots with ink too light to be read by the tabulators on-site at the polling places. Because of the confusion, lines backed up in some areas.

Officials with the county say everyone could vote, and all ballots were tabulated. According to officials, ballots affected by printer issues were taken to more advanced counters at the election department headquarters.

Kari Lake’s attorneys claimed that the chain of custody was broken for ballots at an off-site facility, where a contractor scans mail ballots to prepare them for processing. The county disputes that claim.

The GOP candidate had asked the judge to either order a revote in Maricopa County or declare her the winner. Lake’s attorneys pointed to a witness who examined ballots on her behalf and found 14 ballots that had 19-inch ballot images printed on 20-inch paper. A tabulator could not read ballots like that. Lake’s witness insisted someone had to have changed the printer configurations, claim election officials dispute.

Officials with the county say the ballot images were slightly smaller due to a shrink-to-fit feature selected on the printer by a tech employee trying to find answers for Election Day problems.

About 1,200 ballots were affected by switching on the feature with the ballots then able to be duplicated so tabulators could then read them. Officials say that, ultimately, the ballots were counted.

The last witness for Lake’s case was pollster Richard Baris, who conducted exit polling in Arizona and claimed that technical problems at the polling places had disenfranchised enough voters that it would have shifted the race’s outcome in Lake’s favor.

According to Baris, 25,000 to 40,000 people actually did not cast ballots, which usually would have resulted from problems on Election Day, with voters that day likely supporting Lake. Baris said his estimate was mainly influenced by the number of people who began answering his exit poll but still needed to finish the process.

Hobbs is set to take office as governor on January 2.