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Arizona Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh is suing over election results

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

His race, in which he edged Democrat Kris Mayes by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million votes cast, was already headed for a mandatory recount, which would be triggered if no more than 0.5 percent die both candidates separated. Hamadeh argued that the election was mishandled in a way that altered the outcome. The Washington Post did not predict a winner in the race.

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

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

As Republican candidates lost to Democrats in the state’s major contests, the razor-thin lead in the race for attorney general came into focus. The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer in the state government and has the authority to enforce election laws that could affect the administration of the 2024 presidential election.

The attorney general also has sweeping investigative powers exercised by the current attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, against local officials and their administration of the 2020 presidential election.

The Republican National Committee joined Hamadeh, a former prosecutor and US Army captain, in his lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. The named defendants include Mayes, a former chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission that regulates public utilities, and Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state and governor-elect, as well as the county clerks and boards of directors in all 15 of Arizona’s counties.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction preventing the Secretary of State from confirming Mayes as the winner and requiring her to declare Hamadeh the winner. It also requests that the court direct the various county officials to correct procedural and tabular errors they allegedly made and change the final vote count that will make the Republican the winner.

Dan Barr, an attorney for Mayes, said the Democrat will ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit, which he described as “without factual facts.”

“It is not plausibly claimed that errors in the administration of the election actually occurred, and if they had, that they would have altered 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 unfounded in law and speculative in fact,” the spokesman said in a statement to the Washington Post. “None of the allegations made warrant the extraordinary legal remedy to reverse the election results and overturn the will of Arizona voters.”

Specifically, Hamadeh’s lawsuit begins with a statement that he and the RNC “do not allege fraud, manipulation or other intentional misconduct through this lawsuit.” It focuses specifically on the Attorney General race, not other statewide contests like the governor’s race, in which Republican Kari Lake has refused to back down. The difference between her and Hobbs is well beyond the scope for an automatic recount. Still, Lake’s campaign has argued that the results shouldn’t be certified and vowed to “get justice for the people of Arizona.” Districts must certify results by November 28, and state certification is scheduled for December 5.

Lake has not taken her claims to court like Hamadeh has now, apart from trying to force Maricopa County to produce extensive records of its administration of the Nov. 8 election. But her insistence that she was cheated out of the win makes her unique among Republican candidates backed by former President Donald Trump, virtually all of whom have conceded this cycle, though signaling her support for false cheating allegations in the 2020 contest to have. Lake’s stance ensures Arizona will remain a key terrain in the battle for voting and election confidence.

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

District leaders have yet to explain what caused the problems and say they will conduct a full review once the ballot table is finalized. But they maintain that no one has been denied the right to vote. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge came to the same conclusion when he denied a request by Republicans to extend polling hours on Election Day given the mechanical flaws.

Hamadeh’s lawsuit asks the court to order Maricopa County to process and tabulate 146 provisional ballots and 273 mail-in ballots it claims were unduly barred when voters failed to “check out” of a polling station after encountering the mechanical problems, thus preventing them from voting otherwise. A Maricopa County spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit also asks the court to order the various districts to correct the alleged problems with ballot duplication and inaccurate attribution of ballots, and to exclude ballots with incorrect signature matches. The lawsuit failed to provide evidence of widespread errors sufficient to taint the outcome.

Jim Barton, a Democratic voting rights attorney in Metro Phoenix, said the lawsuit did not allege enough specific issues to change the outcome of the election.

“If you’re going to vote in an election, you have to be specific enough, and you have to identify enough issues that would upset the election,” Barton said. “They didn’t meet the standard of showing that if they were right, the election results would be changed.”

Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the lawsuit intentionally divorces others aimed at reversing election results in recent years. Mainly, it’s shorn of “the wild fraud allegations that we’ve seen in some of the Trump-related lawsuits in 2020,” he said.

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

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