Judge allows Abe Hamadeh’s election lawsuit to move forward on 4 of 5 claims
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- A Mohave County judge has ruled Republican Abe Hamadeh’s election lawsuit will move forward on four of five counts. A hearing will be held on Friday morning to discuss the remaining counts. Count five was the only one dismissed from the lawsuit, which alleged illegal votes were counted for unverified early ballots. The other counts deal with the exclusion of provisional voters, disqualification of provisional and early ballots, unverified early ballots and issues regarding tabulation machines that rejected ballots because voters didn’t fill them out correctly.
Judge Lee F. Jantzen ruled Hamadeh’s case was different from other GOP counterparts because Hamadeh didn’t allege “fraud or personal agendas being pushed” in his lawsuit. Instead, he claimed mistakes by election officials led to a miscount of votes that could’ve affected the outcome of a narrow attorney general race. The race saw Democrat Kris Mayes come out on top by just over 500 votes, but the race has gone to an automatic recount since it’s within a 0.5% margin.
In his ruling allowing Hamadeh to proceed on those grounds, Jantzen dismissed his claim that the procedures for handling mail ballots are unconstitutional. Jantzen said the claim should have been brought before the election. But Jantzen said Hamadeh can inspect ballots in Maricopa, Pima and Navajo counties. Mayes won Maricopa and Pima counties, home to Phoenix and Tucson. Hamadeh won Navajo County, though it’s home to a large Native American population that heavily favored Mayes.
Jantzen made no comment on the merits of Hamadeh’s claims, but ruled that he’s entitled to gather witnesses and evidence in an attempt to prove them. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled nearly a century ago that mistakes by election officials, even big ones, are not sufficient on their own to overturn an election; the losing candidate must prove the mistakes affected the result.
The news comes after Republican Kari Lake had most of her lawsuit dismissed on Monday evening. The eight claims thrown out in Lake’s lawsuit include Katie Hobbs’ office having Twitter posts taken down, incorrect certification and others. The only two counts moved forward in court pertaining to machine tabulator issues and the ballot chain of custody. A hearing was held on Tuesday morning for those claims. Lake faces the even more daunting challenge of overcoming a 17,000 vote deficit.
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