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Judge dismisses lawsuit in Maricopa County over Arizona GOP election

Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, left, and her husband, Michael Ward. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX (AP) — A Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit over alleged voting irregularities in the Arizona Republican Party’s January election, ruling that the dispute involved internal party politics and cannot be decided in a court of law.

The lawsuit stemmed from the Arizona Republican Party Jan. 23 election after party chairwoman Kelli Ward narrowly won her re-election.

Ward’s challenger, Sandra Dowling, alongside party activist Bill Beard, sued Ward and the party in March when party officials declined their attorney’s calls for an audit and recount, even as Ward made similar claims of former President Donald Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden.

“The Court simply does not have authority to order the chairwoman of the Republican Party to order a Special Meeting to consider an audit, investigation, recount or re-vote of internal party procedures not involving public office or a core Constitutional concern,” Judge Michael Kemp wrote in his dismissal of the lawsuit.

Jack Wilenchik, attorney for the Arizona Republican Party, said he plans to file a motion to dismiss a second lawsuit that similarly seeks to have the results of the January election audited, if attorney Dowling and Beard don’t back down, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

Kemp wrote in his dismissal that Dowling and Beard have potential remedies outside the court, like gathering support to force a special meeting — which party activists first attempted in March before party officials canceled the meeting, saying they hadn’t collected enough valid signatures.

Other options Kemp offered included seeking a recall of state party officials who declined the audit, trying to revise the bylaws for the future or reviewing the ballots and documents related to the January vote.

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