Most unsuccessful Arizona statewide Republican nominees formally contested their opponents’ certified victories, pushing vast allegations to argue votes should be set aside or adjusted that would flip the outcomes.
State and county election officials insist no voter was disenfranchised, finishing the certification process last week in accordance with a statutory timeline that began a five-day window when voters could file legal challenges.
Republican nominees for governor and secretary of state, who lost their races, and attorney general, whose race remains in an automatic recount, filed challenges and claimed they should be certified as the winners.
Senate candidate Blake Masters is the only failed statewide GOP nominee in Arizona to not contest their race. The Republican superintendent candidate, who also did not file a suit, has not yet been declared the winner but leads ahead of an automatic recount.
In initial hearings this week, judges began setting aggressive schedules so they can issue decisions ahead of Arizona’s inauguration early next month.
Here’s a rundown of the lawsuits challenging Arizona’s election results:
Governor: Kari Lake
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who lost to Katie Hobbs (D), asked a judge last Friday to vacate Hobbs’s certificate of election because “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected” the results, an argument based on claims disputed by election officials.
Lake, an ally of former President Trump, had declined to commit to accepting the election results on multiple occasions prior to the midterms. One of her attorneys in the case, Kurt Olsen, was subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee after reports emerged he spoke with Trump on the day of the Capitol riot. Lake is requesting the courts either declare her the winner of the election or toss out the results and mandate a new vote.
The defendants plan to ask for the case to be dismissed and have until noon Thursday to file their motions.
Lake claims Hobbs as Arizona’s secretary of state and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who also runs an anti-Trump PAC, engaged in “intentional misconduct” in support of Hobbs’s candidacy.
The allegations largely focus on printer malfunctions that printed ballots too light for tabulators to read at some vote centers in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and comprises about 60 percent of Arizona’s population.
Election officials insist voters could use one of multiple backup options, but Lake argues the issues effectively disenfranchised enough Election Day voters — who lean Republican — to erroneously give Hobbs the victory.
The suit further alleged about 200,000 ballots did not have proper chain of custody paperwork and many mail ballots with mismatched signatures were tabulated anyways.
Lake also claimed Hobbs and Richer violated the First Amendment, citing an email Hobbs’s office sent urging a review on tweets containing falsehoods about the 2020 election and a presentation Richer gave to Department of Homeland Security officials and Twitter’s legal counsel about election misinformation.
Hobbs’s campaign team called the lawsuit a “desperate attempt to undermine our democracy,” ahead of a statement on Saturday.
“Kari Lake needs attention like a fish needs water — and independent experts and local election officials of both parties have made clear that this was a safe, secure, and fair election,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said. “Arizonans made their voices heard and elected Katie Hobbs as their governor.”
Governor: Sonny Borrelli
State Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R) and two Mohave County voters contested Hobbs’s gubernatorial win, arguing “multiple systemic failures” in Maricopa County changed the outcome.
The suit largely focuses on Maricopa’s use of a third-party software that gives confidence ratings about whether mail ballot signatures match a voter’s file.
Election workers use the rating as they decide whether the signature matches, but the suit claims using the software is unconstitutional and violates state law without providing evidence that the software affected the results.
“Real human beings charged by statute with verifying signatures are not supposed to act as rubber stamps for unreliable decisions already made by private corporations’ trade-secret software,” the suit states.
Secretary of state: Mark Finchem
Republican Mark Finchem, who lost Arizona’s secretary of state race to Adrian Fontes (D) by about 120,000 votes, argued Arizona’s elections have become a “laughingstock among the 50 states” in contesting his result and asking a judge to issue a criminal referral for Hobbs.
Fontes and Hobbs urged the judge to dismiss the case, and a ruling is expected on their motions on Friday. Hobbs’s attorneys called the suit “little more than a publicity stunt.”
Finchem’s challenge describes the backup options in Maricopa as “weak and unsatisfying,” claiming he would have received 201,232 additional votes had the malfunctions not occurred, enough to change the outcome.
“The court system is the proper place for campaigns challenging the results to make their case,” the county said late last week. “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.”
Finchem’s suit also goes further, promoting unfounded claims that voting equipment in the state was not properly certified by an accredited laboratory. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the accreditation process, and state election officials previously refuted those allegations.
The attorney representing Finchem, Daniel McCauley, represented the GOP-controlled Cochise County board last month when it defied a statutory deadline to approve the vote canvass based on similar allegations. The refusal was declared unlawful by a state judge.
“This is an election contest founded upon a flimsy tantrum of conspiracy theories and outright falsities in which Plaintiff Mark Finchem – a twice sanctioned litigant who has maintained totally baseless lawsuits against his political rivals and a failed politician who roundly lost the 2022 General Election – asks this Court to wholly disregard the People’s will, overturn the 2022 General Election and do it all over again in a manner he prefers,” Fontes’s attorneys wrote in court filings on Tuesday.
Finchem’s suit was initially joined by Jeff Zink, who lost to Rep. Reuben Gallego (D) by 54 points, but that race was later removed from the suit.
Attorney general: Abe Hamadeh and Republican National Committee
Republican attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, who trails his Democratic rival by just 511 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots, filed a challenge with the Republican National Committee and two voters ahead of the automatic recount.
But unlike the other suits, Hamadeh’s complaint does not allege “any fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing” and instead argues the cumulative effect of the printer malfunctions was enough to flip the razor-thin margin.
His complaint also alleges election workers made errors in tabulating damaged ballots that workers transposed onto a duplicate ballot and ballots with unclear markings that workers from different parties adjudicated. The suit also claims a material number of mail ballots had mismatched signatures and shouldn’t have been counted.
Hamadeh asked a state judge to amend the tabulations to fix the alleged inaccuracies, provide allegedly disenfranchised voters with an opportunity to vote and declare Hamadeh as the winner.