Republican lawsuit over Arizona attorney general race struck down

A United States judge ruled that Republican Abraham Hamadeh failed to prove claims about errors in vote counting.

Abraham Hamadeh
Abraham Hamadeh, a Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general, lost a bid on Friday to challenge his loss in the November midterm elections [File: Ross D Franklin/AP Photo]

A judge in the United States has thrown out a lawsuit from Republican candidate Abraham Hamadeh, who challenged the election results in his race against Democrat Kris Mayes for Arizona attorney general.

The judge, Mohave County Superior Court’s Lee Jantzen, has concluded that Hamadeh did not prove the errors in vote counting that he had alleged.

The ruling on Friday came after Hamadeh’s attorney, Tim La Sota, acknowledged during litigation that his client had not gained enough votes to change the outcome of the race.

Mayes finished 511 votes ahead of Hamadeh in one of the closest elections in state history. Approximately 2.5 million votes were cast.

“You haven’t met the burden” of proof, Jantzen told La Sota shortly before ruling against Hamadeh.

As part of the litigation, the parties in the case were allowed to inspect a sample of 2,300 ballots. Through the inspection, Hamadeh said he gained a net six votes, while Mayes maintained she netted three votes.

“If you extrapolate the numbers, they are not going to get us to 511 votes if you take the sample we have,” said La Sota, who had pushed for a larger sample size.

Hamadeh, whose race is the subject of a separate automatic recount conducted by the state due to the close results, complained on Twitter about election operations in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county. He said his team “will await the results of the recount before deciding our next steps”.

Andrew Gaona, a lawyer representing Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who oversees the state’s elections, said the lawsuit was a “spectacular waste of everyone’s time”.

Under Arizona law, Hamadeh faced the high bar of proving not just that election officials erred but that he would have won without their misconduct.

In his lawsuit, he alleged that problems with printers in Maricopa County led to a series of issues that disenfranchised voters. He also alleges his race was affected by improper handling of ballots that were duplicated or adjudicated by people because they could not be read by mechanical voting tabulators.

Dan Barr, a lawyer representing Mayes, said Hamadeh did not present evidence to support his claims. “What on earth are we doing here?” Barr asked during closing arguments. “People can’t file complaints [over elections] with no facts.”

A court hearing is scheduled for December 29 to present the results of recounts in the races for attorney general, state superintendent, and a state legislative seat.

Another judge is considering Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her loss to Hobbs in the state’s governor’s race.

Source: The Associated Press