PHOENIX — Kari Lake will get her day in court this week to challenge her election defeat.
Late Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ordered a two-day trial Wednesday and Thursday on two of the ten claims Lake made in contesting Democrat Katie Hobbs' 17,000-vote victory.
Both claims allege intentional misconduct by elections workers that cost Lake the governor’s race. Lake’s eight other claims were dismissed.
Thompson's ruling came after a 75-minute hearing Monday morning on a motion to dismiss Lake's election contest, filed by Maricopa County, the Secretary of State's Office and Gov.-elect Hobbs.
Lake’s attorney plans to call as witnesses Hobbs, in her capacity as secretary of state; Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, who oversees voter registration and early voting; and Maricopa County Board Chairman Bill Gates, who leads the Republican-controlled board that oversees elections in the country's second-largest voting jurisdiction.
In a separate ruling Monday night, Thompson rejected Hobbs' and Richer's requests to quash the subpoenas requiring them to appear as witnesses.
Under Arizona law, election contests play out in a compressed, 10-day time frame, with limits on the legal tools available to attorneys.
After the two-day trial Wednesday and Thursday, Thompson will have just five days, until Dec. 27, to issue his ruling. That would allow for an emergency court appeal, with the scheduled swearing-in of Arizona's new executive officers just six days away (including the New Year's holiday) on Jan. 2.
The ruling on the election contest is a temporary victory for Lake, a former TV news anchor who has latched onto Donald Trump as her role model. For the last month, Lake has refused to concede defeat.
At a Phoenix event over the weekend, her typically combative rhetoric took a harsher turn. “These people are crooks. They need to be locked up,” Lake said of Maricopa County election officials.
Lake’s lawyer will now have to meet the high bar of proving her allegations.
The lawyer, Kurt Olsen, is a Washington, D.C., attorney who worked behind the scenes to try to keep Trump in power after his 2020 election defeat, according to a report by the Daily Beast.
Olsen's courtroom presentation Monday included several references to debunked conspiracy theories from the 2020 and 2022 elections.
Olsen claimed there were "tens of thousands" of disenfranchised voters.
His claims about intentional tampering with ballot printers or questionable ballot handling lacked the kind of proof that would stand up in court.
Counts 2 and 4 in Lake's complaint were the only ones that survived the judge's initial scrutiny.
In one count, Lake alleges printers malfunctioned on Election Day, leaving them susceptible to hacking. And additionally, the printers malfunctioned because of an “intentional action.” Judge Thompson ruled that Lake must show at trial that the printer malfunctions were intentional and directed to affect the election results and that those actions directly affected the outcome.
The second count deals with the ballot chain of custody. In her lawsuit, Lake alleges there were violations of the chain of custody of ballots.
Thompson said the defendants in the case dispute the lack of compliance with chain of custody laws and claim that Lake has misunderstood the forms required. Thompson said, as presented, whether the county complied with its own manual and applicable statutes is a dispute of fact rather than one of law.
Here's a list of counts that were dismissed:
- Count I – Violation of Freedom of Speech
- Count III – Invalid Signatures on Mail-In Ballots
- Count V: Equal Protection
- Count VI: Due Process
- Count VII – Secrecy Clause
- Count VIII: Incorrect Certification
- Count IX: Inadequate Remedy
- Count X: Constitutional Rights
On Dec. 9, Lake formally challenged her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs, asking a court to throw out certified election results from Maricopa County and either declare her the winner or rerun the governor's election in that county.
Lake's lawsuit targets Hobbs, Maricopa County election officials, and claims voters were disenfranchised and officials failed to do their jobs.
Hobbs defeated Lake by a little more than 17,000 votes, and there has been no evidence that voters were disenfranchised or that the result was in any way inaccurate.
But Lake claims "thousands of voters, disproportionately Republican, gave up voting due to the long wait times or simply avoided the polls after seeing the chaos reported," and now wants a trial of all disputed facts and to be named the winner of the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election.
While most Republicans around the country who lost after spreading baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election conceded, Lake has not. She has embarked on a campaign on social media and conservative outlets to claim the election was tainted by problems in Maricopa County.
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.
The judge said each side would have five and a half hours available for an opening statement, direct examination of witnesses, cross-examination of opposing witnesses, re-direct examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.
Kari Lake's legal team submitted a witness list for trial which includes Katie Hobbs, Stephen Richer, and Bill Gates.
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