Maricopa County wants judge to fine Lake, Finchem over election lawsuit

Posted 8/13/22

Maricopa County supervisors are turning the legal tables on the state's two top Republican election deniers, asking a judge to impose financial sanctions on them and their lawyers.

Emily Crager, …

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Maricopa County wants judge to fine Lake, Finchem over election lawsuit


Maricopa County supervisors are turning the legal tables on the state's two top Republican election deniers, asking a judge to impose financial sanctions on them and their lawyers.

Emily Crager, an attorney for the board, said the lawsuit filed by gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, seeking to ban the use of ballot counting machines is full of claims that are demonstrably false.

More to the point, she told U.S. Districy Court Judge John Tuchi that "any reasonable investigation would have revealed'' all that. And Crager said all that violates court rules which bar filing frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, she told the judge, the claim "has no factual or legal basis'' and was filed "for the purpose of undermining confidence in elections and to further their political campaigns,''

Lake did not respond directly to the filing.

"Howie, when are you going to cover my policies?" she told Capitol Media Services. "You and the rest of the PHX area media look absolutely ridiculous.''

Finchem, for his part, called the county's legal filing "nothing more than the attempted weaponization of the judicial process against the political process.''

"If they can't stand up to scrutiny for elections, that's their problem, not our problem,'' he told Capitol Media Services.

But Crager said the lawsuit is so chock full of false statements, some of which she called "complete fiction'' that Tuchi not only needs to dismiss it but fine the candidates and their attorneys.

In filing suit in April, Lake and Finchem argued that the machines that tabulate ballots are unreliable because they are subject to hacking. And they say that the use of components in computers from other countries makes them vulnerable.

But attorney Andrew Parker who filed the lawsuit on their behalf said there is something even more basic.

He said that the tabulation of votes is an inherently governmental function. Yet by using machines built and programmed by private companies the state has effectively farmed that out.

And what's worse, Parker said in his filings, is that the technology is kept secret from the public.

"This lack of transparency by electronic voting machine companies has created a 'black box' system of voting which lacks credibility and integrity,'' he wrote in the lawsuit.

What he wants is a court order to have the 2022 election conducted with paper ballots which would be counted by hand, calling it "the most effective and presently the only secure election method.''

In her new filing, Crager told Tuchi he was being lied to.

It starts, she said, with the contention that Arizonans vote by machine.

Both plaintiffs Lake and Finchem have voted on paper ballots for nearly 20 years,'' Crager wrote. "Thus, their claims that Arizona does not use paper ballots are the very definition of 'frivolous.' ''

During all that time, she said, their votes were tabulated by machine. But Crager said there was no challenge in the early 2000s, nor when the county began using equipment from Dominion Voting Systems in 2019.

"Instead, they waited until they were running for statewide political office, when a significant portion of their likely voters had become erroneously convinced that the 2020 election was 'stolen,' '' she wrote.

"Only then did they raise concerns about tabulation equipment, after having determined that promoting distrust in elections was politically profitable,'' Crager continued. "Indeed, both plaintiffs are actively stating their intentions 'not to concede' and require a 100% hand recount of all ballots.''

There are other specific problems with the lawsuit, she said.

For example, Crager said, the legal papers cite findings by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann to "audit'' the results of the presidential and U.S. Senate races in Maricopa County. But she said many of the findings proved "blatantly false'' and were based on the company's lack of knowledge of election procedures and plain "ineptitude.''

Crager also said claims of what had occurred in other states was irrelevant as the equipment used in Maricopa County is different.

And Crager told Tuchi a special master hired by the Senate confirmed the county uses an "air-gapped'' system that protects against connection to the internet.

"This court should not countenance candidates filing a meritless lawsuit for political purposes, which asserts fictional violations of constitutional rights and is completely devoid of any factual basis but furthers a false narrative that election results cannot be trusted,'' she said.

Tuchi has not said when he will rule.