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AZ Judge Rules Kari Lake Cannot Review 2022 Ballot Envelope Signatures

by Erica Carlin

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah recently ruled on a request by 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake to personally review ballot envelope signatures following her loss to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

After a two-day trial to determine whether Lake’s legal team should be granted access to the ballots, Judge Hannah ultimately concluded that such action “would have a corrosive effect on public confidence in the electoral process.”

Although Hobbs defeated Lake by less than 1 percent, Lake had requested access to the ballot signatures in April and was denied by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

Richer argued that he defended voter privacy and election security by denying Lake’s request.

“I believe these envelopes are not public record according to state statute. And I believe that making them public would have a chilling effect on voting, would weaken the security controls on early voting, and would open the door to voter harassment,” he wrote, according to The Western Journal.

That led Lake to respond: “Professional Victim @stephen_richer is lying again. We’re not asking these signatures to be made public. We are asking to review them to assess whether they are legitimate or not. We have a STRONG reason to believe they’re not. Clearly, so does Stephen.”

The outlet added:

However, Hannah sided with Richer, noting a court ruling in May concluded no convincing evidence had been presented at trial that Maricopa County did not follow the signature verification process required by law.

In his Wednesday ruling, the judge conceded that the ballot envelopes are public records but said the “best interest of the state” exception applies.

“The Recorder uses the private identifying information in his possession, including voter signatures, for the purpose of verifying early ballots,” Hannah wrote. “As a matter of election administration, the public release of that private information, including voter signatures, undermines the verification process.

“Unauthorized people could use the information to impersonate real voters. ‘Voter impersonation’ fraud is exceedingly rare at present, in part because it is difficult to scale up that kind of activity enough to make a difference in an election.

“A key barrier is that potential bad actors have no large-scale source of sample voter signatures from which to create fraudulent ballots that might survive the signature verification process and get counted,” Hannah added, agreeing with Richer that disclosing the information could lead to “voter harassment.”

The judge cited testimony to support Richer’s assertion that the disclosure of signatures would have a “chilling effect” on mail-in ballot participation, which included evidence of canvassers visiting voters’ residences in order to verify who inhabited the address and whether they had voted. Consequently, he determined that “the wide right of electoral engagement is more significant than the limited interests of those who would persist in inspecting the machinery of democracy.”

“The public release of 1.3 million ballot affidavit envelopes signed by Maricopa County voters would undermine the process of verifying those voters’ ballots in future elections,” he wrote. “It would create a significant risk of widespread voter fraud where none now exists.”

He added: “It would expose voters to harassment and potentially force them to defend the integrity of their own votes. Some number of voters would stop participating entirely, out of fear of identity theft or concern about privacy.”

After a ruling from the Yavapai County Superior Court in September, which found that Maricopa County had not followed the law regarding ballot signature processes, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs requested action to ensure compliance with the statute.

Judge John Napper asserted that the regulation was “clear and unambiguous,” requiring election officials to compare voter signatures on registration cards rather than other documents.

The law further stipulates that if discrepancies are identified, election officials must make attempts to confirm identity.

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5 comments

Don Corbin December 1, 2023 - 3:32 pm

It’s apparent these judges are in the tank..bought and paid for!!! It’s regrettable that judges like this have lead the way for corruption and fraudulent ballots to be allowed…that’s detrimental and disgusting!!

Reply
Ed December 3, 2023 - 2:24 pm

I agree.

Reply
The NC Taxman December 1, 2023 - 6:00 pm

All ballots need to be PAPER, signed by the voter in the presence of a poll worker who also must sign the ballot. All ballots must have an indelible serial number and an official indelible water mark. A clear chain of command must be maintained. As to mail in or drop off ballots, they need to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public, notarized and a true color copy of the Voter ID of the voter enclosed. Only ballots received via mail or dropped off at the official polling place by the close of the polls on election day may be counted. Any not received by then shall be VOID and not opened or counted!

Reply
Chuckles47 December 1, 2023 - 8:27 pm

“NOTHING TO SEE HERE”…

BECAUSE THEY ARE HIDING THE EVIDENCE?

Verifying Signatures DOES NOT LEAD TO HARRASSMENT of individual voters.

Reply
Slick Vic December 2, 2023 - 12:10 am

Election fraud. People need to be put on trial. Other counties in AZ should sue. They were all affected by the fraud.

Reply

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