The Arizona Supreme Court has issued a new order sending a key piece of Kari Lake’s Election lawsuit back to the trial court for further review, securing a major win for the Republican.
Despite the win, however, corporate media outlets were quick to spin the news into a near death-blow to her chances of overturning the outcome of her 2022 state gubernatorial race.
- The Arizona Republic: “Arizona Supreme Court rejects most of Kari Lake’s election challenge.”
- KNXV-TV: “Arizona court declines most of Lake’s appeal over gov’s race.”
- KPNX-TV: “Arizona court declines most of Kari Lake’s appeal over governor’s race.”
As the headlines note, “most” of the appeal was rejected.
On six of the seven counts, the court ruled there were “insufficient” grounds to overrule the decisions made in trial courts, according to KPHO-TV.
There was also much crowing about the fact that Lake could face sanctions for alleging that “35,563 unaccounted-for ballots were added to the total of ballots at a third-party processing facility.”
Brahm Resnick, a “politics & democracy” reporter for NBC affiliate KPNX, made a point of posting that section of the ruling on Twitter:
KICKER AZ Supreme Court could slap sanctions on @KariLake legal team for claim about "35,563 unaccounted for ballots." pic.twitter.com/eXBJgUmrBz
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) March 23, 2023
However, “most” is not “all.”
The one ruling that went Lake’s way was huge — not only for her case but for election integrity as a whole.
In the ruling, the state Supreme Court found that the lower trial court erred in dismissing a challenge to signature verification procedures in the state’s most populous county, Maricopa County.
The matter was sent back to a trial court for consideration — and it could grant Lake’s team a review of how the signatures were verified.
“The county and appeals courts interpreted Lake’s signature-related challenge as applying to the policies themselves, not how the policies were applied in 2022, and dismissed her claim based on grounds that she filed her legal challenge too late,” the Arizona Republic noted.
“But that was an error, the Supreme Court said, noting, ‘Lake could not have brought this challenge before the election.’”
Lake, who lost by only 17,000 votes, was quick to tout Wednesday’s decision as “huge.”
This is huge. https://t.co/nfQ2oIL7Vu
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) March 23, 2023
And she also had a warning for those counting her out: “We’re just getting started.”
We’re just getting started.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) March 23, 2023
Lake filed an appeal earlier this month.
In the appeal, Lake’s legal team alleged that “whistleblowers conducting signature verification at [the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center] came forward with the evidence that Maricopa disregarded Arizona law and allowed tens of thousands of uncured ballots with nonmatching signatures to be counted.”
“Curing” ballots involves reaching out to voters whose ballots would be rejected due to errors in order to confirm the voter’s identity.
Allowing tens of thousands of ballots with non-matching signatures to be counted without curing in Maricopa County — home to 60 percent of Arizona’s voters — is significant.
The issue is vital when considering that mail-in ballots massively tend to favor Democrats and the margin of victory for now-Gov. Katie Hobbs was only around 17,000 votes.
In Lake’s appeal, her team argued that the trial court’s decision to dismiss her cases “effectively immunizes election officials’ noncompliance with Arizona’s election laws.”
The Arizona Supreme Court’s order states:
IT IS ORDERED denying review of issues one through five and seven.
The Court of Appeals aptly resolved these issues, most of which were the subject of evidentiary proceedings in the trial court, and Petitioner’s challenges on these grounds are insufficient to warrant the requested relief under Arizona or federal law,” states the order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED granting review of issue number six to the extent count three of the complaint challenges the Maricopa County Recorder’s application of signature-verification policies during the election.
Issue number six asks, “Did the panel err in dismissing the signature-verification claim on laches[,] mischaracterizing Lake’s claim as a challenge to existing signature verification policies, when Lake in fact alleged that Maricopa failed to follow these”
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