Kari Lake Sues Arizona’s Largest County, Seeking to Overturn Her Defeat

Kari Lake, the losing Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, filed a lawsuit Friday contesting the results of an election that was certified by the state this week.

Ms. Lake’s lawsuit came after she had spent weeks making a series of public statements and social media posts aimed at sowing doubt in the outcome of a contest she lost by more than 17,000 votes to her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs. That loss was certified in documents signed on Monday by Ms. Hobbs, who currently serves as secretary of state.

A former news anchor, Ms. Lake centered her candidacy on false conspiratorial claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Donald J. Trump, who had endorsed her. For the past month, Ms. Lake, her campaign and other allies have been soliciting Election Day accounts from voters on social media and at rallies.

“If the process was illegitimate, then so are the results,” Ms. Lake said on Twitter on Friday evening after announcing her lawsuit. “Stay tuned, folks.”

Ms. Hobbs called Ms. Lake’s suit “baseless” in a post of her own on Twitter, describing it as the “latest desperate attempt to undermine our democracy and throw out the will of the voters.”

The Aftermath of the 2022 Midterm Elections

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A moment of reflection. In the aftermath of the midterms, Democrats and Republicans face key questions about the future of their parties. With the House and Senate now decided, here’s where things stand:

Biden’s tough choice. President Biden, who had the best midterms of any president in 20 years as Democrats maintained a narrow hold on the Senate, feels buoyant after the results. But as he nears his 80th birthday, he confronts a decision on whether to run again.

Is Trump’s grip loosening? Ignoring Republicans’ concerns that he was to blame for the party’s weak midterms showing, Donald J. Trump announced his third bid for the presidency. But some of his staunchest allies are already inching away from him.

G.O.P leaders face dissent. After a poor midterms performance, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell faced threats to their power from an emboldened right flank. Will the divisions in the party’s ranks make the G.O.P.-controlled House an unmanageable mess?

A new era for House Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve in the post and the face of House Democrats for two decades, will not pursue a leadership post in the next Congress. A trio of new leaders is poised to take over their caucus’s top ranks.

Divided government. What does a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-run Senate mean for the next two years? Most likely a return to the gridlock and brinkmanship that have defined a divided federal government in recent years.

Ms. Lake sued Ms. Hobbs as well as officials in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is Arizona’s largest county.

The suit claims that the election was corrupted in Maricopa County and that she should be declared the winner. The 70-page filing relies on a hodgepodge of allegations, ranging from voter and poll worker accounts to poll numbers claiming that voters agreed with Ms. Lake on the election’s mismanagement. Some of what is cited comes not from last month’s election but from the 2020 contest. Other allegations accuse officials of wrongdoing for taking part in efforts to try to tamp down election misinformation.

Fields Moseley, a spokesman for Maricopa County, said the court system was the proper place for campaigns to make their case to challenge results.

“Maricopa 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,” Mr. Moseley said.

A number of those cited as experts in the lawsuit and one of the lawyers who filed the case — Kurt Olsen — are part of a loose election-denial network led by Mike Lindell, the pillow company entrepreneur who has been pushing conspiracy theories about election machines since early 2021. Another Lake lawyer, Bryan Blehm, represented the contractor Cyber Ninjas during the partisan audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results last year and also represented supervisors in Cochise County this year in a lawsuit over an attempt to carry out a hand-counted audit plan.

Ms. Lake’s legal action came as lawsuits were also filed Friday by two other Arizona Republicans who lost their midterm elections: Mark Finchem, who ran for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh, the attorney general candidate. Mr. Hamadeh, who is trailing his opponent by 511 votes in a race that is undergoing a recount, was joined in his lawsuit by the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Hamadeh previously filed suit late last month seeking to overturn the election, but the suit was dismissed by a Maricopa County judge for being filed prematurely. His new suit — filed in Mohave County, a Republican stronghold where he won 75 percent of the vote — is more narrow than Ms. Lake’s, claiming that it is not questioning the election’s validity. But, as with Ms. Lake, Mr. Hamadeh is seeking an order overturning the election results and declaring him the winner, claiming he is not alleging widespread fraud but rather “certain errors and inaccuracies.” On Twitter late Friday, Mr. Hamadeh wrote that “Maricopa County faced unprecedented and unacceptable issues on Election Day.”

Dan Barr, a lawyer for Mr. Hamadeh’s opponent, Kris Mayes, said the lawsuit was “based on speculation” and contained “no real facts.” He said he planned to file motions to dismiss it and move it to Maricopa County early next week.

Mr. Finchem, one of several secretary of state candidates around the country who denied the results of the 2020 presidential race, lost by more than 120,000 votes. In his suit, filed in Maricopa County, Mr. Finchem alleged that Arizona had “failed miserably” to administer a “full, fair, and secure election” and asked that the court declare the election “annulled” and name him the winner.

That suit was filed by Daniel McCauley, who also represented Cochise County in its recent failed attempt to deny certification of the election results.

One of Ms. Lake’s lawyers, Mr. Olsen, was also involved in an earlier federal lawsuit brought unsuccessfully on behalf of Ms. Lake and Mr. Finchem. It was filed before the Nov. 8 election, but earlier this month a federal judge found that it made “false, misleading and unsupported factual assertions” about election systems. The judge said those misleading assertions warranted sanctions. He said he would determine who among the lawyers involved in the case should be sanctioned at a later date.

Mr. Olsen and Ms. Lake’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Finchem did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of the claims in Ms. Lake’s lawsuit centered on long lines and other problems on Election Day in Maricopa County that she alleges led to voter disenfranchisement.

Last month, The New York Times reviewed dozens of accounts from voters, poll workers and observers posted by Ms. Lake and her allies on social media or recounted in public hearings in the wake of the election. The review found that while they said they had been inconvenienced by the long wait lines, most voters specified that they had ultimately been able to cast their ballots.

County officials have said they responded to printer problems at around 30 percent of the county’s voting locations. The printer problem meant that on-site tabulators — the machines that count ballots — rejected some of those ballots. The county had provided a backup system that allowed voters to drop ballots in a secure box to be processed at a different location rather than by the tabulator on site.

But some voters’ mistrust of the voting systems led them to not want to use the ballot boxes. Officials say those voters were given other options, including voting elsewhere. The situation created long lines at some of the voting centers, but the county says that every person who wanted to cast a ballot was able to do so.

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