Arizona Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh sues election results

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PHOENIX — Abe Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for Arizona attorney general, sued his Democratic opponent and a wide range of state and county officials on Tuesday in an effort to block certification of his loss and force to declare him winner on November 11. 8 competitions.

His race, in which he edged Democrat Kris Mayes by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million votes, was already heading for a mandatory recount, triggered when no more than 0.5% separates the two candidates. Hamadeh argued that the election was mishandled in a way that made a difference in the outcome. The Washington Post did not project a winner in the race.

The state tally gave Hamadeh 1,254,102 votes and Mayes 1,254,612, who said earlier Tuesday she was “confident the end result will be the same” and predicted the process would end in here Christmas. “As this race should show everyone across the country, every vote counts,” she told reporters.

Republican candidates in negative elections lost key races statewide in the 2022 midterm elections, even as the ranks of deniers grew in Congress. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

With Republican candidates falling to Democrats in the state’s most critical contests, the razor-thin margin in the race for attorney general has taken center stage. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the state government, with the power to enforce election laws that may affect the administration of the 2024 presidential election.

The attorney general also has sweeping investigative powers, which the current attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, wielded against local officials and their administration of the 2020 presidential election.

The Republican National Committee has joined Hamadeh, a former prosecutor and US Army captain, in his lawsuit, which was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. The named defendants include Mayes, a former chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, and Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state and governor-elect, in addition to county recorders and supervisory boards in the 15 Arizona counties. .

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction preventing the Secretary of State from certifying Mayes as the winner and requiring her to declare Hamadeh the winner. He also asks that the court order the various county officials to correct the procedural and tabulation errors he claims to have made and to alter the final vote tally, which he says will make the Republican the winner.

Dan Barr, an attorney for Mayes, said the Democrat will ask the court to dismiss the complaint, which he called “devoid of any real facts.”

“He does not plausibly allege that errors in the administration of the election actually occurred, and if they did occur, that they would have made a difference in the outcome,” Barr said.

A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office said the office’s legal counsel is reviewing the lawsuit and preparing a response.

“The Bureau believes that the lawsuit is legally without merit and factually speculative,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post. “None of the claims raised justify the extraordinary remedy of altering the election results and overthrowing the will of Arizona voters.”

Notably, Hamadeh’s lawsuit opens with a statement that he and the RNC “are not alleging by this lawsuit any fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing.” It focuses specifically on the race for attorney general, not other statewide contests, such as the race for governor, in which Republican Kari Lake refused to concede. The difference between her and Hobbs is well outside the margin of an automatic recount. Still, Lake’s campaign argued that the results should not be certified, promising “to get justice for the people of Arizona.” Counties must certify results by Nov. 28, and state certification is scheduled for Dec. 5.

Lake has not taken his claims to court, as Hamadeh has now, beyond seeking to compel Maricopa County to produce wide-ranging documents about its administration of the Nov. 8 election. But her insistence that she was cheated out of victory makes her unique among Republican candidates backed by former President Donald Trump, who have virtually all conceded this round despite their support for false allegations of fraud in the contest. 2020. Lake’s posture ensures that Arizona will remain central ground in the fight for the vote and faith in the election.

Lake and Hamadeh — her in public statements, he now in court — focused on mechanical issues in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than half of the state’s voters. As Election Day began, printers at 70 of the county’s 223 polling places produced ballots with ink too light to be read by vote-counting machines, county officials said. This required voters to line up, drive to another location, or drop their ballots into secure boxes that were moved to downtown Phoenix and counted there.

County leaders have yet to explain the cause of the issues, saying they will undertake a full review once the ballots are compiled. But they maintain that no one was denied the right to vote. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge came to the same conclusion when denying a request by Republicans to extend voting hours on Election Day in light of mechanical errors.

Hamadeh’s lawsuit asks the court to require Maricopa County to process and compile 146 provisional ballots and 273 absentee ballots that it says were wrongfully excluded when voters have not “verified” a polling station after encountering mechanical problems, thus preventing them from voting in any other way. A Maricopa County spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit also asks the court to order the individual counties to correct what it says are issues with ballot duplication and inaccurate ballot adjudication and to exclude ballots with a signature match. incorrect. The prosecution failed to provide evidence of widespread error sufficient to taint the result.

Jim Barton, a Democratic election lawyer in metro Phoenix, said the lawsuit does not allege enough specific issues to change the election outcome.

“If you’re going to contest an election, you have to have specificity, and you have to specifically identify enough issues that would overturn the election,” Barton said. “They failed to meet the standard of showing that if they were right the election results would be changed.”

Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the lawsuit appears intentionally distinct from others seeking to reverse election results in recent years. Primarily, it’s stripped “of the kind of savage accusations of fraud that we’ve seen in some of the Trump-related prosecutions in 2020,” he said.

The goal, Hasen said, is “likely to convince the court to take it seriously.”

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