Judge in Kari Lake’s Second Election Contest Trial Again Dismisses Her Case

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson has dismissed Kari Lake’s election contest a second time. His first dismissal was reversed by the Arizona Supreme Court in March, and he was ordered to reconsider the signature verification issue. Thompson issued an opinion merely six pages long on Monday, just one business day after the trial ended Friday afternoon.

Thompson stated in his ruling that the legal standard was whether Lake had shown there was misconduct by election boards participating in a canvass, citing A.R.S. 16-672(A)(1). However, the Arizona Supreme Court did not specifically refer to that part of the statute in its remand opinion. Thompson then tied the misconduct to the standard the Arizona Supreme Court did use, which was to show that “votes [were] affected ‘in sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the election’ based on a ‘competent mathematical basis to conclude that the outcome would plausibly have been different, not simply an untethered assertion of uncertainty.’”

The Arizona Supreme Court tied that standard to all of A.R.S. 16-672, not just its misconduct clause. That statute lays out the grounds for an election contest, which includes “On account of illegal votes” and “by reason of erroneous count of votes.”

Thompson asserted that Lake had to prove that election boards’ misconduct affected the outcome of the election, citing Miller v. Picacho Elementary School District No. 33. However, that case did not state that a showing of misconduct was required. Instead, the Arizona Supreme Court looked at the violations of the statutes on their face to invalidate the election. “We therefore hold that a showing of fraud is not a necessary condition to invalidate absentee balloting,” the court stated. “It is sufficient that an express non-technical statute was violated, and ballots cast in violation of the statute affected the election.”

Thompson next claimed that Lake relied on the case Reyes v. Cuming as a “purposeful concession” because she wouldn’t be able to “cast doubt on a specific number of ballots.” However, Lake named specific numbers of ballots in her case that she cast doubt on. For example, her legal team showed through an expert how the signatures on 274,000 ballots were reviewed in less than 2 seconds each. Although the defense had advance notice of the expert, they provided no expert to refute his testimony.

Then Thompson claimed, “More to the point, she was obligated to prove that the process for submitting and processing early ballots did not occur.” There were 1.3 million early ballots cast in the 2022 general election. There is no Arizona case law which states that a plaintiff contesting an election must show that there was no early ballot processing at all. Yet he asserted that and tied it into his misconduct standard, “To do so would prove misconduct pursuant to A.R.S. § 16-676(A)(1).”

Thompson dismissed the testimony of the two Level 1 whistleblowers who testified about how inadequate the signature review process was. He characterized their testimony as if it was fairly favorable towards the process, leaving out their most critical statements. For example, reviewer Andy Meyers stated that the Level 2 reviewers weren’t even bothering to work on some of the signatures referred up to them, because they were too busy, and just kicked them back to the Level 1 reviewers. Thompson merely said this about Meyers’ testimony, “[he] revealed that he participated in both a level one review and curing process.”

Thompson said Maricopa County Elections Director Rey Valenzuela provided the testimony that was the “most helpful to the court, and the most credible.” However, Thompson ignored how Lake’s attorney Kurt Olsen impeached Valenzuela in his closing statement for making incorrect statements on the stand. Valenzuela said the reason Lake’s expert, Erich Speckin of Speckin Forensics, found that the vast majority of 70,000 signature reviews he analyzed were approved in less than one second was because they were certain types of early ballots that did not require signature verification, such as voters who dropped their early ballots off at vote centers and showed ID instead. However, when Olsen interviewed Specklin on the witness stand, Specklin said he did not include those types of early ballots in his analysis.

At the same time, Thompson did not find that Speckin’s testimony was wrong. He added, “the court makes no finding of dishonesty by any witness.”

Thompson said that Valenzuela’s testimony about how many signature reviewers there were, and how many levels of review were conducted, was sufficient evidence that “there was no misconduct.”

Speckin testified how his extensive experience in document review and handwriting analysis made it clear it was impossible to analyze signatures in a couple of seconds, but Thompson blew off his testimony. Thompson also ignored a video of a signature reviewer clicking through signatures as fast as possible, less than one per second. He ducked the extremely short verification times by stating, “Accepting that argument would require the Court to re-write not only the EPM but Arizona law to insert a minimum time for signature verification and specify the variables to be considered in the process.”

Thompson dismissed the significance of the word “compare” in the signature verification statute, A.R.S. 16-550(A). That statute states in part that election workers “shall compare the signatures thereon with the signature of the elector on the elector’s registration record.” Thompson said, “No reviewer is required by statute or the EPM to spend any specific length of time on any particular signature.”

He then said that the statute merely requires the county recorder to be satisfied with the signature review. Since Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, an election fraud denier who started a PAC for other GOP election fraud deniers, was fine with the signature review process, Thompson said that was all that mattered.

Thompson attempted to distinguish the problems with signature review from a similar situation in Reyes. He claimed that since the county recorder in that election hadn’t compared any of the signatures on the ballot envelopes to the voters’ signatures on their registration, the court ordered a new election. “It bears noting that this case is based on completely different facts than in Reyes, where the county recorder had done no signature verification whatsoever,” he said.

However, Reyes did not emphasize the fact that every signature lacked verification. In fact, the Reyes court noted that less than one-third of the ballots cast were not in compliance with A.R.S. 16-550(A). The court added, “Miller established that an election contestant need only show that absentee ballots counted in violation of a non-technical statute changed the outcome of the election;  actual fraud is not a necessary element.”

Thompson concluded with three findings of fact, stating that by either a “preponderance of the evidence” standard or “clear and convincing” standard Lake did not prove her case. He said she failed to show misconduct, that the misconduct was done by an official involved in a canvass, and that it affected the election results by “a competent mathematical basis.”

It is not known whether Lake intends to appeal.

Read the decision:

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kari Lake” by Gage Skidmore CC2.0.



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8 Thoughts to “Judge in Kari Lake’s Second Election Contest Trial Again Dismisses Her Case”

  1. […] After ruling against Kari Lake in a remanded election trial challenging her gubernatorial loss to Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson rejected Maricopa County’s motion for sanctions against Lake on Friday, just three days after their attorneys filed the request. The county’s attorneys asserted that Lake’s team made several false statements to the court. Lake’s attorneys filed a response opposing the request on Thursday. […]

  2. Wayne

    Thank you Rachel Alexander for writing a concise and detailed evaluation of this unconscionable travesty of justice perpetrated on ALL Arizonians.

  3. […] informazioni sulla sentenza del giudice da Tempi di sole dell’Arizona reporter Rachele Alessandroche sostiene che Thompson non abbia giudicato il caso in base al quale è stato restituito dal […]

  4. […] on the judge’s ruling from Arizona Sun Times reporter Rachel Alexander, who argues Thompson did not judge the case on the basis on which it was returned by the higher […]

  5. Allets

    At the same time, Thompson did not find that Speckin’s testimony was wrong. He added, “the court makes no finding of dishonesty by any witness.”

  6. V A

    Kari Lake is a true American Hero, and her courage like her inner light have never shined brighter! The world would be a better place if more people shared her love for integrity and the truth, and for doing right by the American people. Kari is someone that believes in and fights for justice and for the American people with everything she’s got no matter how difficult the journey may be. Kari Lake is a winner and a winner never misses the opportunity to glorify God through their faith by demonstrating it daily in heart, mind, action, and deed. Integrity, Courage, and Honesty can’t be bought or silenced and Kari Lake has all these attributes on full display everyday. No matter what she does next she will always be a blessing to the American people and to all those people that she will represent and serve in any office or capacity. I strongly disagree with the judge’s findings, as I did the first time out, but that’s all I will say regarding it. Kari Lake walks in honor and with integrity, and no court ruling will ever change that. Kari Lake walks in faith and not in fear as a child of God. She is determined to lead by example and to show others we all have a choice to make so make the right one and make a real difference in this world. Do your best and be the best version of you that you can be…just ask Kari!

  7. Bobos Curse

    Gee, wonder if the judge is corrupt.

  8. Curmudgeon

    Yawn. And people wonder why cynics refer to it as the Just-us System.