By JACQUES BILLEAUD
PHOENIX (AP) — Kari Lake, the Republican defeated in Arizona governor’s race, is formally challenging her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs, asking a court to throw out certified election results from the state’s most populous county and either declare her the winner or rerun the governor’s election in that county.
The lawsuit filed late Friday by Lake centers on long lines and other difficulties that people experienced while voting on Election Day in Maricopa County. The challenge filed in Maricopa County Superior Court also alleges hundreds of thousands of ballots were illegally cast, but there’s no evidence that’s true.
Lake has refused to acknowledge that she lost to Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes.
The Donald Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate has bombarded Maricopa County with complaints, largely related to a problem with printers at some vote centers that led to ballots being printed with markings that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators.
Lines backed up in some polling places, fueling Republican suspicions that some supporters were unable to cast a ballot, though there’s no evidence it affected the outcome. County officials say everyone was able to vote and all legal ballots were counted.
Lake sued Maricopa County officials and Hobbs in her current role as Arizona’s secretary of state.
Sophia Solis, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, said Lake’s lawsuit was being reviewed but had no other comment on the filing.
Jason Berry, a Maricopa County spokesperson, declined to comment on Lake’s request to throw out the county’s election results in the governor’s race. But he said the 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.”
Hobbs in a post on her Twitter account called the lawsuit “Lake’s latest desperate attempt to undermine our democracy and throw out the will of the voters.” She posted a statement from her campaign manager that called the lawsuit a “sham” and said her camp remained focused on “getting ready to hit the ground running on Day One of Katie Hobbs’ administration.”
Lake’s lawsuit says Republicans were disproportionately affected by the problems in Maricopa County because they outvoted Democrats on Election Day 3-1. GOP leaders had urged their voters to wait until Election Day to vote.
In late November, Lake filed a public records lawsuit demanding Maricopa County hand over documents related to the election. She was seeking to identify voters who may have had trouble casting a ballot, such as people who checked in at more than one vote center or those who returned a mail ballot and also checked in at a polling place.
During the summer, a federal judge also rejected a request by Lake and Mark Finchem, the defeated Republican candidate for secretary of state, to require hand counting of all ballots during the November election.
The judge has since sanctioned lawyers representing Lake and Finchem, saying they “made false, misleading, and unsupported factual assertions” in their lawsuit. The lawyers told the court that their claims were “legally sound and supported by strong evidence.”
Hobbs in her role as secretary of state has petitioned a court to begin an automatic statewide recount required by law in three races decided by less than half a percentage point.
The race for attorney general was one of the closest contests in state history, with Democrat Kris Mayes leading Republican Abe Hamadeh by just 510 votes out of 2.5 million cast.
The races for superintendent of public instruction and a state legislative seat in the Phoenix suburbs will also be recounted, but the margins are much larger.