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By Patricia Tolson

Republican Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake (L) and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. (Getty Images)Arizona Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake said “stay tuned” as the Copper State is going to officially certify the controversial gubernatorial race between her and Katie Hobbs on Monday.

Lake, who lost by less than one percentage point to Hobbs and has refused to concede, cannot file her lawsuit under Arizona law until state officials certify the election results. That process will take place on Dec. 5, when Arizona’s governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and chief justice will validate the election outcome based on official results submitted by the state’s 15 counties.

In a video posted on social media, Lake said her lawsuit will include “at least one smoking gun” based on whistleblowers who have contacted her campaign. “I’m working with a team of patriotic, talented lawyers on a legal case to challenge the botched elections,” she said, adding that they will file the lawsuit per Arizona state law.

“And you’ll want to stay tuned for this one,” she said. “Trust me.”

Lake plans to sue Arizona’s largest county next week to overturn her election loss, sources familiar with the matter told TIME, as the state’s election system is beset by turmoil more than three weeks after Election Day.

The Legal Battle

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Judge John Tuchi granted the motion for sanctions (pdf) filed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors against Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

“It is to make clear that the Court will not condone litigants ignoring the steps that Arizona has already taken toward [elections] and furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process,” Tuchi said in the report, according to Phoenix’s KPHO CBS 5 News.

“It is to send a message to those who might file similarly baseless suits in the future,” the judge added. Lake will now have to pay a fine and reimburse Hobbs’s attorney fees. While the judge feels the sanctions must be enough to “deter repetition” of similar allegations in the future, he has not yet made clear how much Lake will have to pay.

Lake’s lawsuit was filed against Maricopa County election officials over their administration of the midterm elections on Nov. 23. Among the allegations was that of Maricopa County’s 223 polling centers: at least 118 locations experienced problems when “the County’s ballot printers produced ballots that were not printed darkly enough for the County’s vote tabulation machines to read the ballots.” Lake also asked the court to require Maricopa County election officials to produce records on how they conducted the midterm elections.

Lake, who has repeatedly questioned the integrity of Arizona’s midterm elections, has vowed to “continue fighting” the results of what she described as a “botched” election. Through social media, Lake also alleged that voting machine issues and long wait times for in-person voting “discriminated against people who chose to vote on Election Day.”

“Given instances of misprinted ballots, the commingling of counted and uncounted ballots, and long lines discouraging people from voting, as demonstrated in the attached declarations, these records are necessary for Plaintiff to determine the full extent of the problems identified and their impacts on electors,” the suit reads.

Lake’s complaint further charges that “the Defendants failed to detect, prevent or timely remedy this problem during setup and testing of their polling stations,” and “although poll workers tested the printers, according to observers they did not test whether the tabulators could read the test print.”

“People were still able to vote, it was just a matter of maybe not voting in the way they wanted to,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said during ballot tabulation on Nov. 8. “We do not believe that anyone has been disenfranchised, because no one has been turned away.”

Other legal action includes:

  • April 22 – A lawsuit (pdf) was filed by Lake and Republican candidate for Arizona Secretary of State Mark Finchem—both endorsed by former President Donald Trump—requesting that the state’s two largest counties—Maricopa and Pima, respectively—use only paper ballots during the November midterm election.
  • June 8 – Lake and Mark Fincham filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction against Hobbs and the Maricopa and Pima County Board of Supervisors
  • July 18 – Defendants Bill Gates, Clint Hickman, Jack Sellers, Thomas Galvin, and Steve Gallardo in their official capacities as members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (“the County”) filed a Motion for Sanctions against Lake and Mark Fincham.
  • Aug. 10 – A Motion for Sanctions is filed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (pdf).
  • Aug. 26 – Judge issues an Order granting Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss (pdf).
  • Nov. 16 – A Public Records Request was filed by Timothy A. La Sota, demanding possession of all communications between or among County employees, agents, and vendors about problems with the tabulation or printing of ballots at vote centers before Election Day. The request included affidavits from multiple election observers attesting that they witnessed issues with “faded timing marks,” which prevented the ballots from being read by the ballot tabulators and required that each ballot be duplicated to be tabulated by a machine.
  • Nov. 23 – Lake’s attorney Timothy A. La Sota filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County election officials.
  • Dec. 1 – Judge Tuchi’s Order found Lake’s allegations of fraud to be “baseless” and her lawsuit to be “frivolous.”

Lake’s Refusal to Concede

Lake, a Trump-endorsed candidate, has yet to concede to Hobbs, despite full certification of the results and the passing of the gubernatorial torch by outgoing Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who met with Hobbs on Nov. 23.

“Today I congratulated Governor-elect Katie Hobbs on her victory in a hard-fought race and offered my full cooperation as she prepares to assume the leadership of the State of Arizona,” Ducey said in a statement, adding that his administration “will work to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.”

“All of us have waited patiently for the democratic process to play out,” he said further. “The people of Arizona have spoken, their votes have been counted, and we respect their decision.”

Now Lake is saying that, if she does concede, the United States will “end up like China.”

The Late Certifications

On Nov. 25, the Republican Party of Arizona filed a letter asking the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors not to certify the election “until such time as the issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election are thoroughly investigated and the potential statutory violations of A.R.S. Title 16 are remedied.”

In a Nov. 29 letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, former Democrat Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard joined Republican former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley in requesting probes based on the allegation that the GOP supervisors likely broke at least three of the state’s criminal laws by refusing to certify the election results.

“We respectfully request that your offices investigate whether Cochise County Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd violated Arizona criminal law by willfully refusing to certify the results of the 2022 election in spite of their legal duty to do so,” the letter stated. “Their votes against certification resulted in the three-member Board failing to perform its legal duty to certify the election.

On Dec. 1, the Republican-dominated Cochise County, which remained as the lone county that had yet to certify its midterm election results, was ordered by Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley to have its Board of Supervisors canvass the election. At a meeting of the Board, the election was certified.

“Today’s court decision was a win for Arizona’s democracy and ensures that all Arizonans will have their votes counted,” Hobbs said in a statement posted on social media. “Cochise County has been ordered to canvass today, and the state certification of the 2022 General Election will proceed as scheduled on Monday.”

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