Kari Lake declares victory — after judge rejects most of her lawsuit challenging election loss

The failed GOP candidate tried to frame a judge dismissing 8 of 10 counts in her suit as a win

By Areeba Shah

Staff Writer

Published December 20, 2022 1:27PM (EST)

Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake acknowledges the crowd during the Republican Party election night event on November 8, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake acknowledges the crowd during the Republican Party election night event on November 8, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

An Arizona judge dismissed most of failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake's lawsuit contesting her defeat to Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, but the election denier framed the ruling as a win for her campaign. 

"Our Election Case is going to trial," Lake wrote on Twitter. "Katie Hobbs attempt to have our case thrown out FAILED. She will have to take the stand & testify. Buckle up, America. This is far from over."

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson dismissed eight of the 10 claims Lake brought in her lawsuit, asking the judge to either declare her the winner or hold a revote in the county, The Associated Press reported

Among one of the many constitutional claims the judge dismissed included Lake's allegation that Hobbs, in her capacity as secretary of state, engaged in censorship by flagging social media posts with election misinformation for removal by Twitter.

"This case is also about a secret censorship operation set up by the government that would make Orwell blush," Lake's attorney said during Monday's hearing.

While Thompson took no position on the merits of Lake's two surviving claims, he allowed a trial to move forward on two other counts, which involved printers malfunctioning on Election Day and ballot chain of custody. 

"Plaintiff must show at trial that the [Election Day] printer malfunctions were intentional, and directed to affect the results of the election, and that such actions did actually affect the outcome," the judge told Lake's team.

Lake claimed that there were "hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots" in Maricopa County and printers that malfunctioned were not certified and had "vulnerabilities" that made them "susceptible to hacking." She also claimed the printer failures were because of "intentional action." 

In a two-day hearing scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Lake will have to prove her claims. The judge will also allow her legal team to present evidence that Maricopa County violated its election manual regarding ballot chain of custody. 

The former news anchor has said that more than 300,000 Maricopa County ballots did not have proper chain of custody paperwork, which resulted in her loss. But the county disputes her claim, arguing that Lake does not understand the various forms of paperwork.

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Since the judge called this claim a dispute of fact, rather than law, Lake will be allowed to present her evidence in court.

"If there's anything rotten in Arizona, it is what this contest represents," an attorney for Hobbs said at the hearing. "For the past several years, our democracy and its basic guiding principles have been under sustained assault from candidates who just cannot or will not accept the fact that they lost. The judiciary has served as a bulwark against these efforts to undo our democratic system from within."

Maricopa County has been ripe for legal challenges during recent election cycles. The threats from right-wing commentators and politicians in the last midterms were so extreme that they forced election workers into hiding

Despite no evidence of voter fraud, Lake's allies pushed falsehoods and accused county officials of "disenfranchising" voters.

Judges dismissed separate election lawsuits filed by a state senator who contested Hobbs' gubernatorial win, and another filed by former Republican Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, who challenged his Democratic rival's victory.

When Lake, the Trump-backed candidate, lost to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes, she claimed that "thousands of voters, disproportionately Republican, gave up voting due to the long wait times or simply avoided the polls after seeing the chaos reported."

Arizona law mandates a strict timeline on election-related lawsuits. Judge Thompson ordered a two-day trial to begin before January 2.

By Areeba Shah

Areeba Shah is a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. Previously, she was a research associate at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center, where she covered how COVID-19 impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest.

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Aggregate Elections Kari Lake Katie Hobbs Politics