Kari Lake not accepting defeat in Arizona governor’s race, ‘exploring every avenue’

Nov 17, 2022, 11:23 AM
An demonstrator stands on sidewalk with a campaign sign in support of Kari Lake in front of the Mar...
An demonstrator stands on sidewalk with a campaign sign in support of Kari Lake in front of the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Nov. 12, 2022, in Phoenix. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The race has been called, her opponent’s victory speech has been made, and the ballots are mostly counted. But Kari Lake isn’t accepting defeat.

The Republican said Thursday morning she’s exploring legal action after her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs in Arizona’s gubernatorial race, citing Election Day issues with in-person voting in Maricopa County.

“I’m busy here collecting evidence and data,” Lake said in a video posted to social media.

“Rest assured, I have assembled the best and brightest legal team and we are exploring every avenue to correct the many wrongs that have been done this past week.”

On Wednesday night, the former TV news anchor posted a video montage of clips from her campaign accompanied by Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

The message is on brand for Lake, an ally of Donald Trump and disseminator of his false claims that his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden was rigged.

Senate candidate Blake Masters, who ran in tandem with Lake and other Republicans atop the state ticket and also questioned the 2020 results, took a different approach to his loss. He called to congratulate Democrat Mark Kelly on his reelection earlier this week.

The Associated Press called the governor’s race for Hobbs on Monday because the wire service’s analysts didn’t see a path to victory for Lake based on the vote counts at the time. The ensuing tally validated the call. As of Thursday morning, Hobbs led by 17,200 votes with an estimated 17,280 ballots left to be counted statewide.

Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, rose to prominence as a defender of the legitimacy of the last election and warned that Lake would be an agent of chaos.

Lake distorted the facts about the Election Day issues in Maricopa County in her video Thursday morning.

She implied that Hobbs had something to do with Election Day operations, which is untrue. While secretary of state is considered Arizona’s chief elections officer, elections are conducted at the county level.

The Secretary of State’s Office compiles a statewide canvass based on what the counties report, and the secretary of state, governor, attorney general and Arizona Supreme Court chief justice then certify the canvass results.

Maricopa County officials acknowledged issues with tabulators on Election Day, Nov. 8, as it unfolded. They said about 70 of the county’s 223 vote centers, less than one third of the sites, experienced issues with at least one of their two tabulators. In her video, Lake exaggerated that aspect by saying “nearly half of all polling places” had issues.

Lake also referred to her rejected lawsuit to get rid of “electronic voting machines” and cited Maricopa County’s issues as validation. However, Arizona does not have electronic voting. All early and in-person ballots are filled out by hand with pen on paper. Machines are used only to tabulate the completed ballots.

Maricopa County officials said the Election Day issues weren’t caused by the tabulators, but occurred because some of the printers used to create the ballots for in-person voting didn’t have the proper toner settings. The solution was implemented that afternoon.

Voters who ran into tabulation problems were told they could put their completed ballot into a secure box to be tallied later at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center. If they didn’t want to do that, they could spoil their ballot and check out of the vote center to try another location.

The Maricopa County elections website had a page that showed schedules, addresses and wait times at all vote centers from the start of early voting on Oct. 12 through Election Day, so voters could see where the lines were shortest. Maricopa County doesn’t use precincts, so in-person voters could cast their ballot at any location.

Officials said that while wait times grew at some sites because of the problems, nobody was prevented from voting.

Lake, however, alleged that “tens of thousands of Maricopa County voters were disenfranchised” as a result of the issues, but the only specific example she gave in the video is for a man who ran into issues at two sites before successfully voting at a third.

“One man told me he went to a location and there was a three-hour line because the tabulators weren’t working,” she said. “He drove 15 miles to another location, and the printers weren’t working. He drove another 15 miles and was finally able to cast his vote, but he’s not sure it counted.”

Lake didn’t give any explanation of why the man questioned whether it was counted.

She posted another video Thursday morning of supposed evidence. In it, a man explains the issues he faced voting in Litchfield Park. But he and his wife successfully voted after changing vote centers once because of printer issues.

On election night, Lake, Masters and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the polls open three extra hours, but a judge ruled against them shortly before the polls closed at 7 p.m.

Republican-leaning voters may have been wary of putting their ballots in the “Box 3” slot when tabulators rejected them, but that’s because Lake and other GOP leaders have spent the last two years following Trump’s lead and sowing distrust in the election process through disinformation without producing verifiable proof of widespread fraud.

Maricopa County, home to nearly one-third of the state’s residents, has been a favorite target of election deniers since 2020. It was the subject of a so-called audit led by Trump-friendly Cyber Ninjas and commissioned by GOP leaders in the Arizona Senate last year.

The hand count of the ballyhooed review corroborated Biden’s victory, and the monthslong operation failed to uncover evidence of any malfeasance that led to legal action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kari Lake not accepting defeat in Arizona governor’s race, ‘exploring every avenue’