Arizona attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh sued over election results

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PHOENIX – Abe Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general, sued his Democratic opponent and a host of state and county officials on Tuesday in an attempt to block the certification of his loss and force them to declare him the winner in November . 8 competition.

His race, in which he trailed Democrat Kris Mayes by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million votes cast, was already headed for a mandatory recount that was triggered when no more than 0.5 percent separated the two candidates. Hamadeh argued that the election was rigged in a way that made a difference to the outcome. The Washington Post has not predicted a winner in the race.

The state tally gave 1,254,102 votes for Hamadeh and 1,254,612 for Mayes, who said earlier Tuesday she felt “confident the end result will be the same” and predicted the process would conclude before Christmas. “As this race should show everyone across the country, every vote counts,” she told reporters.

Republican disenfranchisement candidates lost key statewide races in the 2022 midterm elections, even as disenfranchisement ranks swelled in Congress. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

With Republican candidates falling to Democrats in the state’s most critical contests, the razor-thin margin in the race for attorney general has taken center stage. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of state government, with the power to enforce election laws that may affect the administration of the 2024 presidential election.

The Attorney General also has an expansive investigative power, which they current Attorney General, Republican Mark Brnovichhave exercised against local officials and the administration of the 2020 presidential election.

The Republican National Committee joined Hamadeh, a former prosecutor and U.S. Army captain, in his lawsuit, which was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. The named defendants include Mayes, a former chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates public utilities, and Kate Hobbsthe Democratic secretary of state and governor-elect, in addition to the county recorders and boards of supervisors in all of Arizona’s 15 counties.

The suit asks the court to issue an injunction preventing the Secretary of State from certifying Mayes as the winner and requiring her to declare Hamadeh the winner. It also requests that the court order the various county officials to correct procedural and tabulation errors it claims they made and change the final vote count, which it claims will make the Republican the winner.

Dan Barr, an attorney for Mayes, said the Democrat will ask the court to dismiss the complaint, which he called “without actual facts.”

“It does not plausibly allege that errors in the administration of the election actually occurred and, if they did, would have made any difference to the outcome,” Barr said.

A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said the office’s legal counsel is reviewing the lawsuit and preparing a response.

“The office believes the lawsuit is legally baseless and factually speculative,” the spokesman said in a statement to The Post. “None of the allegations raised warrants the extraordinary means of altering the election results and overturning the will of Arizona voters.”

Notably, Hamadeh’s suit opens with a statement that he and the RNC “do not allege in this lawsuit any fraud, manipulation or other willful wrongdoing.” It is specifically focused on the race for attorney general, not other statewide contests, such as the governor’s race, where Republican Kari Lake has refused to admit. The difference between her and Hobbs is well outside the margin of an automatic recount. Still, Lake’s campaign has argued that the results should not be certified, vowing to “get justice for the people of Arizona.” Counties must certify results by Nov. 28, and state certification is set for Dec. 5.

Lake has not brought his claims to court, as Hamadeh has now, beyond trying to compel Maricopa County to produce extensive records about the administration of the Nov. 8 election. But her insistence that she was cheated out of victory makes her unique among Republican candidates backed by former President Donald Trumpwhich almost everyone has admitted this cycle despite signaling their support for false allegations of fraud in the 2020 contest. The lake pose ensures that Arizona remains central to the battle for voting and faith in elections.

Both Lake and Hamadeh – she in public statements, he now in court – have focused on mechanical problems in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than half of the state’s voters. Starts early on election day, printers at 70 of the county’s 223 polling stations produced ballots with ink that was too bright to be read by vote-counting machines, county officials have said. That forced voters to wait in line, travel to another location or deposit their ballots in secure boxes that were transferred to downtown Phoenix and counted there.

County leaders have not yet explained what caused it problems, and said they would conduct a comprehensive review once the vote tabulation was complete. But they maintain that no one was denied the right to vote. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge reached the same conclusion in deny a request by Republicans to extend voting hours on Election Day in light of the mechanical glitches.

Hamadeh’s suit asks the court to require Maricopa County to process and tabulate 146 provisional ballots and 273 mail-in ballots it claims were wrongfully excluded when voters failed to “check out” of a polling place after encountering the mechanical problems, thus preventing them from voting in another way. A Maricopa County spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.

The suit also asks the court to order the various counties to fix what it claims were problems with duplicate ballots and inaccurate ballot scoring and to exclude ballots with improper signature matches. The case did not provide evidence of widespread wrongdoing sufficient to taint the outcome.

Jim Barton, a Democratic election law attorney in Metro Phoenix, said the lawsuit doesn’t allege enough specific issues to change the outcome of the election.

“If you’re going to contest an election, you have to have specificity, and you have to specifically identify enough issues that would flip the election,” Barton said. “They haven’t met the standard to show that if they were right, the outcome of the election would be changed.”

Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said the case appears to be deliberately separate from others aimed at overturning election results in recent years. Mainly, it’s freed from “the kind of wild allegations of fraud we’ve seen in some of the Trump-related cases in 2020,” he said.

The goal, Hasen said, is “probably to convince the court to take it seriously.”

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