search
Sections List
American Journal News

Republicans want to make it easier to challenge election results in court

GOP lawmakers approved a bill that would expand the rules to include the things Kari Lake and Abe Hamadeh claimed

By Caitlin Sievers, Arizona Mirror - February 01, 2024
Share
Election workers perform a recount of ballots from the recent Pennsylvania primary election at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh on June 1, 2022.
Election workers perform a recount of ballots from the recent Pennsylvania primary election at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh on June 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

A GOP proposal that would change the rules for court challenges of election results in Arizona targets many of the issues that plagued the 2022 election suits of Republican candidates Kari Lake and Abe Hamadeh. 

The legislation would expand the reasons a person can challenge an election for illegal votes to include ballots with a broken chain of custody and ballot envelopes with inconsistent signatures or voter information. 

Both of those were central parts of the legal challenges brought by Lake, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate who made a failed bid for governor in 2022. In unsuccessful court challenges aiming to reverse her loss, she claimed that broken chain of custody for hundreds of thousands of early ballots returned on Election Day and mismatching signatures on early ballot affidavits rendered enough votes illegal to overturn the results of the election. She lost the race by more than 17,000 votes. 

The trial, appeals and Arizona Supreme courts all threw out Lake’s challenges, with judges finding that she never proved that any ballots were submitted illegally or that the signature verification process failed. 

House Bill 2472, sponsored by Rep. Cory McGarr, R-Tucson, would also allow the person or group that files an election challenge in the courts to physically examine all ballots, ballot images and early ballot envelopes in that race, as well as the voters registration records. And even though election contests are on a fast-tracked schedule, it instructs the courts to give “ample time” to do so. 

In addition, the bill would give all parties in the suit the right to full discovery of evidence, something that is currently limited in election challenge cases, because of time constraints. 

“Our courts are not very good at handling election challenges,” said Rep. Justin Heap, a Mesa Republican. 

Courts generally operate on a much slower timeline than is needed to resolve election contests, he said, adding that this bill is ultimately about extending the time that those challenging the results of an election have to review evidence. 

Hamadeh, who lost the race for Attorney General to Democrat Kris Mayes by just 280 votes, is still fighting the results of that race in court. Hamadeh lost his initial challenge after submitting only 14 ballots — out of 2,600 examined — to the court that he claimed were erroneously counted or left uncounted.

The judge ultimately ruled that those ballots were only examples of voter error, but Hamadeh argued that the limits on time and discovery of evidence stopped his team from finding more ballots that were incorrectly counted. 

Some backers of McGarr’s bill say that Hamadeh’s and Lake’s losses prove nothing. 

“If it’s limited to this short timeline, the case can’t be made — not because it’s invalid, but because they don’t have time,” Heap said. 

Election challenges have an abbreviated timeline compared to other court cases to ensure that the true winner of a race is the one who takes office. Lake’s initial challenge to the results of the 2022 governor’s race was decided Dec. 24, 2022. Her opponent, Katie Hobbs was sworn in as governor Jan. 2, 2023. 

McGarr’s bill also proposes sending appeals in election challenges directly to the Arizona Supreme Court, bypassing the appeals courts, and would require the Supreme Court to quickly hear and decide the case. 

Ousted former Republican state Rep. Liz Harris spoke in favor of the bill during a House Municipal Oversight and Elections Committee meeting on Wednesday. 

Harris was kicked out of the House last year in a bipartisan vote after she invited a woman to present in front of a joint meeting of the Senate and House elections committees who falsely accused numerous lawmakers of being in the pocket of Mexican drug cartels and being involved in a fraudulent housing deed scheme. 

“This might be a Republican issue today, but it might be a Democrat issue a few years from now,” Harris said. “This is really a bipartisan bill.”

She asked the lawmakers to amend the bill to also allow all parties in election suits to examine digital files from the tabulators that counted the votes, all precinct ballot reports and an unmodified copy of the cast-vote record.

Kerry Jackson, a member of the public, asked the lawmakers to vote against the bill. 

“I don’t trust this bill,” he said, adding that he’s watched members of the Elections Committee spread false and unfounded claims. “I do not trust y’all with this bill.”

Ruthee Goldkorn, a disability rights activist, told the lawmakers that this bill was just another attempt to sow distrust and distress among the voters and to disrupt democracy, adding that people with disabilities might have ballot envelope signatures that seem suspect because they differ greatly from day to day. 

Rep. Rachel Jones, R-Tucson, said the bill should garner bipartisan support since some Democrats claimed that Donald Trump didn’t win the race for president in 2016. Trump lost the popular vote that year but narrowly won the Electoral College tally because he won in several tightly contested battleground states.

She added that she found it “so frustrating” that people tell her fraud didn’t occur in the 2020 and 2022 elections, simply because fraud was never proven in court. Dozens of courts nationwide evaluated fraud claims related to those elections and rejected all of them because litigants could not provide any evidence.

Members of the committee ultimately approved the bill on a 5-4 vote, along party lines. It will next head to the full House of Representatives. 

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, chided those who don’t believe in election fraud. 

“These days, I feel like I’m living in the Orwellian world,” he said. “We trust our election officials. They would never put their thumb on the scale. They would never try to cheat. Well, we know that’s demonstrably false, and it’s demonstrably false in the way a 6th grader could know that it’s demonstrably false.”

His proof is that election officials in Maine and Colorado took former President Donald Trump off the primary ballot in their states on the grounds that he is ineligible to serve under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because he incited an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. (Colorado’s secretary of state actually permitted Trump to run for president, but that state’s Supreme Court ruled he was barred from the ballot.)

“Are they willing to disenfranchise you?” Kolodin asked. “Yes. They’ve done it in public. Before, they were trying to do it in private. Now, they’re willing to do it in public.”

This story was originally published in the Arizona Mirror


AJ News
Get the latest news here first.

Tai News

Newsletter
Read More
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

By Jesse Valentine - February 16, 2024
Republican resolution shows intent to bypass voters in the 2024 presidential election

Republican resolution shows intent to bypass voters in the 2024 presidential election

By Caitlin Sievers, Arizona Mirror - February 15, 2024
Will a Supreme Court decision settle Trump’s eligibility in Maine? Maybe, but more likely not.

Will a Supreme Court decision settle Trump’s eligibility in Maine? Maybe, but more likely not.

By Emma Davis, Maine Morning Star - February 09, 2024
Why is Republican Eric Hovde slow walking his senate campaign?

Why is Republican Eric Hovde slow walking his senate campaign?

By Jesse Valentine - February 06, 2024
Biden rallies Democrats in Las Vegas: ‘Imagine the nightmare’ if Trump reelected

Biden rallies Democrats in Las Vegas: ‘Imagine the nightmare’ if Trump reelected

By April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current - February 05, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

Key takeaways from Monday’s U.S. Senate Ohio Republican primary debate

By Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - February 20, 2024
Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

Mark Robinson gun raffle raises campaign finance questions

By Jesse Valentine - February 16, 2024
Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

Abortion care and transgender health care are ‘parallel struggles’ in 2024 legislation

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - February 16, 2024
Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - February 15, 2024