Orders hearing on signature verification issue
Arizona’s Supreme Court delivered a slap on the wrist to Republican Kari Lake’s attorney on Thursday while demanding one of Lake’s core concerns finally get attention.
The good news-bad news ruling came as part of Lake’s effort to show that misconduct impacted the 2022 election for the governor of Arizona to the point where the victory of Democrat Katie Hobbs over Lake should be thrown out.
Although Lake has lost most of her court appeals, in March, Arizona’s Supreme Court directed a lower court to hold a hearing into Lake’s allegation that Maricopa County did not follow its signature verification process in the 2022 election.
That has not yet happened, but it will now.
As noted by Just the News, the court ordered on Thursday “that the trial court shall forthwith conduct such proceedings as appropriate to resolve” the allegations regarding signature verification.
Here's the latest on our court case!
"AZ Supreme Court orders hearing on Kari Lake's signature verification issue, denies attorney fees."https://t.co/lNMWgQp11P
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) May 5, 2023
In trying to cut to the core of the ruling, Rasmussen Reports tweeted, “Apparently upwards of 300,000 mail ballots in Maricopa County Arizona will now be checked for missing or mismatched signature issues in a race that has captured international attention and is divided by less than 15,000 ‘votes.’”
Arizona’s Supreme Court on Thursday also rejected a request from those Lake is suing to be recompensed for attorney’s fees.
As noted by Newsweek, Lake and her legal team were reprimanded for their choice of words by the court, which sanctioned her attorneys and imposed a $2,000 fine.
35,563 ballots she had claimed were added to Maricopa County’s total votes cast. Lake had framed her contention as an “undisputed fact.”
Arizona Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said on Thursday that the claim cannot be proven, and Lake’s lawyers were in the wrong for violating state and court conduct rules that bar false statements.
“Not only is that allegation strongly disputed by the other parties, this Court concluded and expressly stated that the assertion was unsupported by the record, and nothing in Lake’s Motion for Leave to file a motion for reconsideration provides reason to revisit that issue,” the court order fining Lake’s lawyers $2,000 read.
“Although Lake may have permissibly argued that an inference could be made that some ballots were added, there is no evidence that 35,563 ballots were and, more to the point here, this was certainly disputed by the Respondents. The representation that this was an ‘undisputed fact’ is therefore unequivocally false,” the order read.
Brutinel said he accepts there is “attendant hyperbole” from political campaigns, “[b]ut once a contest enters the judicial arena, rules of attorney ethics apply,” according to Axios.
Kurt Olsen, one of Lake’s two attorneys on the case, was not downcast at the ruling.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s holding but look forward to presenting our case at trial,” he said.
Lake’s contention is that because Maricopa County’s signature verification process is flawed, the outcome of the election is tainted.
A report from Just the News indicates that the technology employed by Maricopa County might not be very effective at catching fraudulent signatures. The report said Maricopa County uses a service called Verus Pro that is part of the software offered by Runbeck Election Services, which has a contract with the county.
At that point, differences emerged. Maricopa County said signatures are verified using “calling, mailing, texting and emailing the voters.”
The site said it was told by a county representative: “Maricopa County does not use Verus Pro for signature verification.”
However, Just the News said former Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright gave the site a copy of a contract effective last July between Maricopa County and Runbeck.
Signatures sent to Runbeck “are assigned a score based on the verification; signatures with a score of 10 or higher are routed to a high-confidence manual signature verification queue, and signatures with a lower score are routed to a low-confidence signature verification queue,” the contract said.
One catch: That’s 10 on a scale of 0 to 100, the report said, citing 2020 emails between Maricopa County officials and a Runbeck employee. In other words, the software has high confidence that a signature that scores as low as 10 out of 100 is genuine.
The report said a Maricopa Couty official’s email noted that only readings “lower than 10” are “not marked as Accepted by Verus Pro.”