Lake made seven legal claims in her case, six of which the state's high court said were properly dismissed by lower courts. However, according to an opinion released Wednesday written by Chief Justice Robert Brutinel the trial court erroneously dismissed Lake’s claim challenging the application of signature verification procedures on early ballots in Maricopa County and as a result sent the claim back to the lower court to reconsider.
Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs by just over 17,000 votes, but has contested the results.
In her challenge, the former TV anchor claimed there were problems with ballot printers at some polling locations in Maricopa County, which is where over 60 percent of Arizona’s voters live.
The ballots were printed too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling locations and as a result lines backed up in some areas. Lake also alleged that thousands of ballots were "injected" into the election and that problems with tabulation machines disenfranchised "thousands" of voters.
County officials countered, claiming those at the locations had the opportunity to vote and that all ballots were counted because the ones affected by the printer malfunctions were taken to more sophisticated counters at election headquarters.
According to the opinion by the state’s high court, Lake's challenges were "insufficient to warrant the requested relief under Arizona or federal law."
However, Lake’s sixth legal claim, alleging that Maricopa County did not follow signature verification procedures, was ordered to be reviewed by a county judge.
According to the Arizona Republic, the county and appeals courts originally ruled Lake’s signature-related challenge applied 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.
But the state’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that was an error saying, "Lake could not have brought this challenge before the election."
In her claim, Lake cited Arizona law requiring signatures on early ballot envelopes be checked against the signature already in a voter's file, and sets the process and timeline for verifying, or "curing," a ballot if the signature doesn't appear to match. Lake claimed Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer's office accepted "a material number" of ballots with unmatched signatures.
The high court ordered Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson to review that element of Lake's case again to determine if the claim was properly dismissed previously, or if Lake can prove “votes (were) affected ‘in sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the election.’”
Previously, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Lake’s claims demonstrated “difficulties” on Election Day but that the lower court was correct in concluding “that voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies setting aside the election results.”
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