Let’s face it: It was doubtful from the beginning that the state of Arizona would redo its gubernatorial election. Once the election is concluded, the damage is done. Just like Trump had no chance of “overturning” the 2020 election, Lake similarly had a slim chance of getting the remedy that she sought. Yet that doesn’t mean that her claims were meritless.
Katie Hobbs, the Democrat who felt little need to actually campaign or debate, will be inaugurated. In a statement, the Hobbs Campaign referred to Lake’s lawsuit as a “sham lawsuit” and attempted to create a sense of inevitability to her becoming governor. Bill Gates, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairmen, likewise called the lawsuit a “made-for-TV tirade” and claimed Lake did not provide evidence. Of course, that’s an oversimplification. She did provide evidence, just not to Judge Thompson’s satisfaction.
Lake’s Day in Court
You might say that Lake had her day in court (literally two days), unlike the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign was found not have standing in their lawsuits; in other words, they never got to actually argue in court. The plaintiff in this case, Kari Lake, at least to some extent was able to argue in court. Yet the terms on which her lawyers were able to argue were so limited that the entire proceeding was futile.
Republicans need to figure out how to prevent election day disasters from happening in the first place.
Lake will fight on, appealing the ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court. But one imagines that the state Supreme Court will also be reluctant to interfere. It just shows that once any malfeasance occurs, even if it is blatant and flagrant, as Lake would argue, it’s hard to find remedy after the fact.
Lake had a high bar to prove that the Hobbs Campaign or election workers had “malicious intent.” Of course there would be no smoking gun. Even if we are to interpret events in the most charitable way to the Lake Campaign, that the Hobbs Campaign colluded with election workers to intentionally sabotage the voting machines and create long lines, even if we are to assume all that, there’s no way someone in the Hobbes campaign would be dumb enough to commit that to writing. Judge Thompson knew this was impossible, so he felt comfortable setting this standard, knowing full well that the trial would be of no consequence.
This is also the view of the Lake Campaign, which stated that Judge Thompson intentionally gave them an “impossible hurdle to clear,” ensuring that they would lose:
Now that they have lost the trial, Lake’s detractors can claim there was “no evidence.” Yet this fails to distinguish between evidence of voter disenfranchisement, which they arguably did present, and intent of voter disenfranchisement. Again, they had no smoking gun because no one is dumb enough to go on record stating their intent of voter suppression.
An incisive column over at Townhall (which Lake tweeted out earlier today) further elucidates the difference between evidence and evidence of intent:
“The standard should have been whether voters were disenfranchised, not all the additional hoops Thompson added. If inner city blacks had been disenfranchised, Thompson would not have added all those extra requirements, he would have made the law fit. Robert Gouveia, a rare attorney who isn’t afraid to speak up and who describes himself as watching prosecutors, judges and politicians, said the standard should have been whether there was voter suppression.”
The printers printed the wrong size ballot, 19” instead of 20”. We know that caused issues. Judge Thompson, however, required the Lake Campaign to show evidence that an election worker intentionally changed the settings to print the wrong ballots. It is impossible to find that piece of evidence.
Why would Democrats want to create all these problems for election day voting? Simple: Republicans are more likely to vote on election day; so long lines and other problems on election day are a disadvantage for Republicans. And that’s exactly what happened.
Presumably, Judge Peter Thompson is a Republican, as he was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer, who herself was a Republican Governor, in 2010. The media loves to point out that Judge Thompson is a Brewer-appointee: their implication is that this shows Lake had no leg to stand on in court. Yet the fact that Thompson is presumably a Republican doesn’t mean he was inclined to be sympathetic to Lake necessarily. There are different factions within the Republican party, for one thing. Also, the pressure Judge Thompson was facing transcends party affiliation.
Yet the fact that Thompson is presumably a Republican doesn’t mean he was inclined to be sympathetic to Lake necessarily.
According to Judge Thompson, the Lake Campaign did not prove that a “county employee interfered with the printers in a way to cause her to lose votes and/or that ballots were added to the county’s total unlawfully.” Though Judge Thompson conceded that there were problems with the election, he nevertheless maintained that the election workers did their work “with integrity.” He therefore deemed it to have been a “valid election,” stating tritely that “no system on Earth is perfect.”
One imagines that Judge Thompson did not want the giant target on his back which would have resulted in finding in Lake’s favor (not a literal target, obviously, but by this I mean the media onslaught). By making the terms for Lake’s case “malicious intent,” he avoided making a tough ruling. Maybe it is not fair to say so, but it at least appears that Judge Thompson chose the easy path for…himself.
Despite losing the case, Lake remains defiant:
Understandably, the bar to overturn election results is fairly high. But then how can one get remedy if there were in fact irregularities, and voters were in fact disenfranchised? The lesson is that you have to assume that you cannot and will not get remedy in court, so all misconduct has to be rooted out on the front end, as Kari Lake must now realize.
Judge Thompson was soft-spoken on the bench. I interpreted his practically whispered admonishments to the lawyers as arrogant; such was his low-effort approach to the case. In his mellow demeanor, he seemed to be communicating to the Lake team, “You’re going to lose anyway; but yes, continue with your point.”
Republicans need to figure out how to prevent election day disasters from happening in the first place. They need to play the game of early voting, mail-in ballots, etc., or make laws tightening up election rules where possible. Sadly, there will be little chance to do this in Arizona, now that Hobbs has won.
Although the Townhall article cited above gives specific examples of “redos” in elections due to irregularities and malfeasance, they must realize that this was never going to happen in Arizona. One could not even imagine Lake’s lawsuit being successful, regardless of the merits of her arguments. “They” just wouldn’t let it happen. (“they” could mean the media, the elites, the Democrats, whoever one wants to use as a stand-in for the prevailing power structure). Attorneys and legal experts are afraid to even weigh in on the case in a manner sympathetic to the Lake Campaign, lest they are disbarred or face other consequences to their careers.
According to AZ Central, the Lake campaign discouraged voters from using drop boxes or mail-in voting. One imagines Lake’s voters were also leery of early voting. This was the Hobbs Campaign’s ace in the hole. Even if the issues on election day were not intentional, they were certainly convenient. Moving forward, Republicans would be well-advised not to leave their fate and fortune with the expectation of smooth election-day voting.