Arizona Supreme Court Rejects GOP Election Challenge Lawsuit

Arizona Supreme Court Rejects GOP Election Challenge Lawsuit
Then-Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward concedes the primary in a speech to supporters at an election night event in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Aug. 28, 2018. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward to challenge the state’s results of the 2020 presidential election.

Justices on the state’s highest court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of Ward’s case, saying that no evidence of misconduct or illegal votes was presented.

In a Dec. 8 statement, Ward called the court’s ruling “disappointing.”

A Maricopa County judge had dismissed Ward’s suit on Dec. 4, ruling that her petition failed to prove that any fraud occurred when she tried to challenge the results in the county.

Ward said that the petition was asking the court to review 28,000 duplicated ballots, as well as digitally adjudicated ballots, that were cast in Maricopa County. She estimated that more than 100,000 ballots were at stake.

The justices on Dec. 8 rejected the request to inspect more ballots and cited case law that concludes the validity of elections isn’t voided by honest mistakes or omissions.

“Elections will not be held invalid for mere irregularities unless it can be shown that the result has been affected by such irregularity,” Chief Justice Robert Brutinel wrote in an order (pdf). “The validity of an election is not voided by honest mistakes or omissions unless they affect the result, or at least render it uncertain.”

Maricopa, the state’s most populous county, was won by Democrat Joe Biden by more than 45,000 votes, according to state election data. Biden leads Trump in the state by about 10,457 votes; the president won the state in 2016 by 3.5 percentage points.

Ward said on Dec. 7 that the ballot rejection rate for mail-in ballots in the county is unusual, saying that just 600 ballots were rejected for a signature mismatch out of almost 2 million absentee or early ballots.
Poll workers count ballots inside the Maricopa County Election Department in Phoenix, on Nov. 5, 2020. (Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images)
Poll workers count ballots inside the Maricopa County Election Department in Phoenix, on Nov. 5, 2020. (Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images)

Her lawsuit says some suburbs on the southeastern edge of Maricopa County had an unusually high number of duplicated ballots, and that election results in that area were “strongly inconsistent” with voter registration and historical voting data. It also alleges the software used in processing such ballots would “prefill” Biden’s name on ballots more often than it did for Trump.

Her lawsuit led to a court-ordered inspection of more than 1,600 ballots. She then asked the state’s highest court to allow for more ballots to be inspected.

Ward’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said they were “evaluating options” for an appeal. He told The Associated Press, “For the Arizona Supreme Court to say there wasn’t enough evidence of error in the vote on the one hand, but on the other hand that we couldn’t see more, is to me an untenable result.”

A court-ordered sampling of some 1,626 duplicated ballots found nine errors that, if correct, would have given Trump seven votes and Biden two votes. Extrapolating the error rates to the 27,869 duplicated ballots in the county, Trump could have lost 103 to 153 votes in the county, “neither of which is sufficient to call the election results into question,” Brutinel wrote.

“It is disappointing that the court would not permit us to look behind closed doors to review additional material for similar mistakes, of which we were in a short time able to identify statistically significant evidence of human error,” Ward said in a statement about the court’s ruling. “The question persists then, how can the voting public have confidence in our elections if such pertinent information is inexcusably withheld from them?”

She added: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear: Arizona voters and their confidence in election transparency and accuracy.

“And while today’s decision is not what those who value and recognize the importance of election transparency and integrity were seeking, rest assured, the fight to restore that corroded confidence will continue.”

The state certified its presidential election results on Nov. 30. Arizona has 11 electoral votes.

The Electoral College is scheduled to vote on Dec. 14 to decide the outcome of the race. The votes will be counted during the Jan. 6, 2021, Joint Session of Congress in Washington.

Biden has declared victory in the presidential election and media outlets have been referring to him as “president-elect.” The Epoch Times won’t declare a winner of the 2020 presidential election until all results are certified and any legal challenges are resolved.

Janita Kan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.