Arizona Judge Dismisses Final Pending Election-Related Lawsuit in State

Arizona Judge Dismisses Final Pending Election-Related Lawsuit in State
A voting site on Election Day in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Bing Guan/Reuters)
Janita Kan

An Arizona judge threw out a legal challenge from two voters who alleged election officials failed to properly follow correct procedures during the 2020 general election.

Following a trial on Nov. 20, Judge Margaret Mahoney from the Superior Court of the State of Arizona dismissed the complaint filed by two Arizona residents.

Laurie Aguilera had claimed she was denied the right to vote because she wasn’t given a new ballot after her vote was rejected by the tabulation machine. Meanwhile, Dovocan Drobina asserted that his vote wasn’t properly counted by the machines.

“I believe that it is the appropriate resolution and that is what I'll be doing,” Mahoney said, without elaborating on her reasons for dismissing the case with prejudice. She added that she would be issuing an order with her decision in writing at a later time.

Aguilera believes her ballot was rejected because she had used a Sharpie marker to fill it out. Her lawyers had asked the judge for injunctive relief to allow Aguilera to cast a new ballot prior to the state’s certification of the election results.

State officials had previously said that Sharpies wouldn’t affect the ballots.

This was the second case Aguilera and Drobina filed against state officials. Their first case over the use of Sharpies to mark ballots was voluntarily dismissed.

Mahoney’s ruling comes on the same day that Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, announced that its board of supervisors had voted to certify the results of the general election.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors—four Republicans and one Democrat—unanimously voted to approve the election results in the state, which shows Democratic candidate Joe Biden ahead by more than 45,000 votes.

“We’ve canvassed the general election results and can assure Maricopa County voters proper steps were taken to ensure a full and accurate count of all votes,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman said in a statement. “No matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency, and in accordance with state laws.”

As of Nov. 20, Biden was ahead of Trump in Arizona state by more than 10,000 votes. President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 by 3.5 percentage points.

The lawsuit decided is the final pending election-related lawsuit in Arizona. On Nov. 19, another state judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party of Arizona seeking a hand count of votes by precinct, as opposed to by voting centers.

Under the secretary of state’s manual, election officials must perform a limited precinct hand count audit after every general election. For the 2020 election, Maricopa County set up “vote centers” across the county rather than assign voters to “polling places” in their precincts, as had been the traditional practice in prior elections. The difference in sampling vote centers compared to precincts is that there are significantly fewer vote centers.

The state’s Republicans, hence, are asking for the sampling of precincts rather than vote centers for the hand count audit.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Nov. 19 that he’ll accept the outcome of the presidential race when all court cases have been settled. The Trump campaign hinted during a press conference that day that it’s considering filing another lawsuit in the state.
Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.