The most recent lawsuit for Kari Lake does not address her run for AZ Governor, it is a public records lawsuit that asks to review all early ballot envelopes with very problematic voter signatures in just Maricopa County, where state election officials had refused to allow Lake and her legal team to see the ballots.
And now the judge has refused to allow Lake to take the stand and testify, according to an independent journalist who is close to the Lake team.
The public records trial for Lake’s lawsuit to get access to 1.3 million voters’ signed AZ ballot envelopes from the 2022 election for AZ Governor is now in the hands of a judge after wrapping up midday Monday.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah said he would issue a ruling as soon as possible after closing arguments in the two-day bench trial.
Lake was not in attendance for the closing trial day after appearing in court on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Lake posted a clip from a recent interview and wrote:
“We know there are people out there who don’t believe in election fraud. But here in Arizona, we lived it. On Election Day, 60% of all polling locations in Maricopa County had tabulation failures, leading to historic disenfranchisement. We won’t stop fighting for fair elections. http://KariLake.com/Fight“
SEE THE INTERVIEW
Emerald Robinson reported on the details of the case, including the most stunning part and wrote:
“Judge refuses to let witnesses for @KariLake take the stand in signature verification trial. @ArizonaSunTimes reporter and former election lawyer Rachel Alexander (@Rach_IC) weighs in on the courtroom drama with @EmeraldRobinson as Lake awaits the judge’s ruling.
SEE THE INTERVIEW
Rachel Amedander from the AZ SunTimes covered more of the details about Lake’s case, the judge’s ruling, and the courtroom drama:
A lawsuit Kari Lake filed over Maricopa County’s refusal to let her use public records law to inspect ballot affidavits, which are signatures from voters on the mail-in envelopes for their ballots, ended after a two-day trial on Monday. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, refused to allow any of Lake’s several proposed witnesses to testify or allow any of her exhibits into evidence.
The trial began with Lake’s attorney, Bryan Blehm, asking to allow State Senator Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) to testify since one of the county’s witnesses had made statements about him during the first day of trial that he said were false. On Thursday, progressive lobbyist Marilyn Rodriguez made accusations that MAGA targeted Latinos because they were racist and stated that Kern had treated witnesses testifying improperly. Even though Kern was present, Hannah refused to allow him to refute her statements.
Blehm again tried to convince Hannah to allow WPAA co-founder Shelby Busch to testify. Busch conducted extensive investigations into the 2020 and 2022 election problems, especially in regard to signature verification, and has worked with Lake’s litigation team on her election challenges. Hannah refused.
In his arguments, Blehm pointed out that the public can examine signatures on candidates’ nominating petitions to determine their validity. Hannah dismissed the comparison, stating it was “zero in the analysis.” One of the county’s attorneys said a statute specifically allows the public to examine those signatures, so it’s allowed in that situation.
A woman who only identified herself as Bonnie Eckard next took the witness stand and testified about how a man and a woman came to her door to canvass the election in August 2021, with concerns about dead people voting. She complained that she didn’t like the visit since she lives in a democracy and said the woman had an “unproved conspiracy point of view.” Eckard added, “Other broad-based conspiracy theories were voiced to me … they seemed outrageous and scary.” She said the experience was “awful, frightening, made me think I was being accused … watched … finger pointing,” and complained about the woman’s “loud voice.”
Eckard criticized the Arizona Senate’s independent ballot audit. “The audit was sloppy, that was all over the press,” she said. Eckard said she complained to the Arizona Attorney General and the person the pair worked for. When the county’s attorney, Joseph LaRue, asked her if she would hesitate to vote by mail if she knew her signature would be made public, she said yes. She did not express any concern regarding when she dropped the ballot return envelope in the mail, which had her signature on the outside. Eckard said she had no problem signing a candidate petition or deed, knowing those signatures become public.
Blehm attempted to ask Eckard if she disliked Donald Trump, but Hannah cut him off. Blehm explained how it was relevant, and Hannah finally agreed to leave it up to Eckard how she wanted to answer. She said Trump was “not my cup of tea.” Eckard is a professor emeritus of theater at Arizona State University.
Next, Kristi Passarelli, who served as assistant director of Election Services and Tabulation during the 2022 election, took the stand. She contradicted Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s testimony from the first day of the trial. Richer said the VM34 file is available for the public with a public records request. It contains the voter’s registration number, name, and address but not their signature or email address. Passarelli said that the file is not available to the public.
Blehm asked Passarelli about a video displayed on the WPAA website showing her running her badge in a card key reader to allow another employee, database administrator Brian Ramirez, access to a server room at the central tabulating site known as MCTEC. Although there have been accusations that Ramirez deleted server logs, no evidence has been produced that Passarelli, a longtime employee of Maricopa County Elections, engaged in any wrongdoing.
Blehm concluded that the defense found witnesses who don’t like people canvassing them — yet one admitted she’d done it herself. He said the county provided “very highly inflammatory testimony about a very specific group of people.” It’s the “new McCarthyism, anti-Trumpism.” He criticized the county’s lack of cooperation and defended Lake’s concerns about election corruption and bad signatures. “They haven’t met their burden because this is what we do in this country,” he said. “The people serve as a check on the government.”
Hannah said he would “get out a decision as quickly as possible.” Read about the first day of the trial here.
Maricopa County election officials argue state law mandates the signatures on the envelopes remain confidential.
Lake’s lawyer counters she has a right to look into how the county runs its election operations and that people’s signatures are public in other places, such as property deeds.
This is Lake’s third trial related to her election loss. Lake previously lost two trials that challenged her competitor Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ win by more than 17,000 votes. In the second trial, a judge rejected a misconduct claim Lake made about ballot signature verification efforts in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and where more than 60% of the state’s voters live.
In Arizona, the envelopes for early voting ballots serve as affidavits in which voters declare, under penalty of perjury, that they are registered to vote in the county, haven’t already voted and will not vote again in that election.