Judge deciding on verdict for Kari Lake’s trial to access signed Arizona ballot envelopes

The two-day bench trial is over and now Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah is...
The two-day bench trial is over and now Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah is deciding on a verdict.(Pool)
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:56 AM MST|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 12:32 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — Monday was the second and final day of a trial brought by a lawsuit filed by Kari Lake over the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election. Now a Maricopa County judge is deciding whether Lake and the public can view the ballot envelopes of over a million voters in the state’s most populous county. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah said he would issue a ruling as soon as possible after closing arguments in the two-day bench trial. Lake was not in attendance after appearing Thursday.

Lake, the Republican defeated in that race by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs with a margin of at least 17,000 votes, has filed two prior lawsuits challenging the results and lost both. However, this lawsuit is a public request lawsuit with the apparent intent to review all early ballot envelopes with voter signatures in Maricopa County. Officials had denied her request for those documents. In Arizona, the envelopes for early voting ballots serve as affidavits in which voters declare, under penalty of perjury, that they are registered to vote in the county, haven’t already voted and will not vote again in that election.

The first lawsuit Lake filed — a little over two weeks after the election — demanded documents about voters from Maricopa County. Leading up to the first lawsuit was a string of baseless claims of voter fraud. During a trial in December, the judge presiding over that case, Judge John J. Tuchi, dismissed the lawsuit, calling it “baseless.” The second lawsuit filed in December by Lake against then-Secretary of State Hobbs, Judge Peter A. Thompson dismissed eight out of 10 claims in that lawsuit.

The trial began with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah rejecting three witnesses proposed by Bryan Blehm, Lake’s attorney. They included two members of We the People Arizona Alliance who testified at her second trial. Calling one “obviously unqualified” to talk on this matter, the judge said he intended to keep the case narrowly focused. “Why the person says they need the records — that’s irrelevant. We start from there and balance the state’s interest — whatever it says the reasons are for non-disclosure,” Hannah said.

Marilyn Rodriguez, a lobbyist whose clients include the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, argued last week that making the signed ballot envelopes public would rob victims of their privacy.

A verdict is now awaited in the trial.

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