Judge rejects Gary Lake’s final plea in Arizona gubernatorial election loss

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge on Monday dismissed the only remaining legal challenge from Republican Kari Lake’s challenge to her loss in last year’s Arizona governor’s race, upholding the election of Democrat Katie Hobbs.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter A. Thompson said Lake failed to prove her claim that Maricopa County did not verify signatures on mail-in ballots as required by law.

Lake was the most vocal of the Republican candidates last year promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, which he made central to his campaign. He has built a loyal following among Trump supporters and is openly considering a run for the US Senate seat now held by Kirsten Sinema, an independent and former Democrat. Lake is often mentioned as Trump’s vice presidential pick.

While other dissidents across the country conceded after losing their races in November, Lake did not. He has aired his legal battle in fundraising appeals and speeches across the country.

Lake did not immediately comment on the ruling.

After losing to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes, he filed suit, asking the courts to appoint him governor or order a new election. Thompson dismissed the case, but the Arizona Supreme Court revived the claim challenging how signature verification procedures were used on early ballots in Maricopa County, which has more than 60% of the state’s voters. District officials supported the signature verification efforts and said they had nothing to hide.

Lake’s signature verification request is subject to a three-day trial. His lawyers argued there was evidence that lower-level screeners who found discrepancies in signatures had moved up the chain of command, where they were ignored by higher-level verifiers.

He did not contest whether the voters’ signatures on the ballot envelopes matched those on their voting records.

The former TV host faced a high hurdle to prove his allegation over signature verification efforts, but it also affected the outcome of his race.

Appointed to the bench by former Republican Gov. John Brewer, Thompson said he didn’t meet that high bar.

“The evidence received by the court does not support plaintiff’s remaining claim,” he wrote.

Earlier in her lawsuit, Lake focused on issues with ballot printing at some polling places in Maricopa County. Defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by on-site tabulators at polling stations. Lines were drawn back in some areas amid the confusion. Lake’s alleged ballot printer problems were the result of deliberate misconduct.

District officials say that all those affected by the printers were taken to state-of-the-art counters at the election headquarters so that everyone had a chance to vote and all the votes were counted.

In mid-February, an Arizona appeals court rejected Lake’s claims that he had not presented any evidence that voters unable to read the tabulators at the polls were unable to cast ballots.

The following month, the state Supreme Court declined to hear all of Lake’s appeals, saying there was no evidence to support his claim that more than 35,000 ballots were included in the total vote.

Earlier this month, a court awarded Lake’s attorneys $2,000 for making false statements when they said more than 35,000 votes were improperly added to the total.

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