Judge dismisses Abe Hamadeh’s election lawsuit, denies petition to change state AG race results

Republican Abraham Hamadeh, candidate Arizona Attorney General, speaks with Arizona's Family...
Republican Abraham Hamadeh, candidate Arizona Attorney General, speaks with Arizona's Family political reporter Dennis Welch following a debate against Democrat Kris Mayes, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 8:57 AM MST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2022 at 3:22 PM MST
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KINGMAN, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5/AP) A judge has thrown out Republican Abraham Hamadeh’s challenge of election results in his race against Democrat Kris Mayes for Arizona attorney general, concluding that Hamadeh didn’t prove the errors in vote counting that he had alleged.

The short-lived trial began Friday morning to challenge his narrow defeat. Hamadeh, who lost by 511 votes, alleges in his lawsuit that problems with printers in Maricopa County led to issues involving disenfranchised voters.

The ruling on Friday by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen came after Hamadeh’s attorney, Tim La Sota, acknowledged his client hadn’t gained enough votes during his litigation to change the outcome of the race. Mayes finished 511 votes ahead of Hamadeh out of 2.5 million in one of the closest elections in state history. “You haven’t met the burden,” Jantzen told La Sota shortly before ruling against Hamadeh.

As part of the litigation, the parties in the case were allowed to inspect a sample of 2,300 ballots. Through the inspection, Hamadeh said he gained a net six votes, while Mayes maintained she netted three votes. “If you extrapolate the numbers, they are not going to get us to 511 votes if you take the sample we have,” said La Sota, who had pushed for a larger sample size.

Hamadeh says they were limited in what they could prove in court. “Based on the constraints imposed on us by the court and the obstruction by the opposing side, we were only given 6 hours with 3 people to attempt to go through 2.5 million ballots,” he wrote on Twitter.

Hamadeh, whose race is the subject of a separate automatic recount conducted by the state due the close results, complained in a tweet about election operations in Maricopa County and said his team “will await the results of the recount before deciding our next steps.” Andrew Gaona, an attorney representing Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said the lawsuit was a “spectacular waste of everyone’s time.”

Mayes released a statement after the ruling, saying she was ready to be Arizona’s next attorney general.

Earlier this week, the Mohave County Superior Court judge ruled that Hamadeh’s lawsuit could move forward on four of five counts, which makes claims that some provisional voters were excluded, provisional and early ballots were disqualified, there were unverified early ballots and that tabulation machine problem resulted in rejected ballots because voters didn’t fill them out correctly. The count that was dismissed alleged that illegal votes were counted for unverified early ballots.

Initially, he 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.

A court hearing to present results of recounts in the race for state superintendent and for a state legislative seat is scheduled for Thursday. A similar hearing is expected to be held next week for the attorney general’s race, though it hasn’t yet been scheduled. Another judge is considering Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her loss to Hobbs in the governor’s race.