A judge in Maricopa County, Arizona, has ruled he won’t block former GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake’s attempts to access ballot affidavit envelopes from last year’s election as she continues to battle what she views as fraudulent activities that she says led to her defeat.
Maricopa County had argued that, except for a few specific cases where county attorneys believed Lake fell short, the signatures present on the ballot affidavit are considered confidential as they are an integral part of the voter registration record, protected by state law.
But Judge John Hannah dismissed the claim on the basis that county recorders frequently incorporate ballot affidavit envelopes into voter registration records, not necessarily due to legal obligations or explicit instructions, according to the AZ Capitol Times late last month.
The court is “not required to defer to the elections officials in how they have historically interpreted” the statute, Hannah noted from the bench. He added that while he did not disagree with the interpretation, he also had “no quarrel” with it.
“I am not convinced that the ballot affidavit is a voter registration record,” Hannah said. “It is a record from which the election officials derive information that becomes part of the voter registration record, but that doesn’t mean the ballot affidavit itself is a voter registration record.”
The outlet noted further: “Hannah then tasked the parties with litigating under public records law instead, meaning the county must argue releasing the records would violate privacy interests or run counter to the best interest of the state. At oral arguments today, Joseph LaRue, senior election attorney for Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, previewed arguments from the county against disclosing the records.”
The report continued: “The county concedes that the ballot affidavit envelopes are public records, but they claim they have ‘several’ vested interests in keeping the records confidential. He said the county sought ‘to protect the integrity of elections’ as making voter signatures publicly available could open the potential for forgery or fraud on ballot envelopes.”
Said LaRue: “That would take some work. It wouldn’t be an easy thing to do, but it might be able to happen.”
That said, given the inability to submit fresh evidence on appeal and the rules controlling discovery in such disputes, the county nonetheless declared Lake’s electoral campaign to be finished.
But Lake attorney Bryan Blehm countered that his client’s election challenge was far from over, saying, “We are still up, your honor, and signature verification is still on the table.”
He said signatures “are our identity. And in all elections, your Honor, these represent our most basic and fundamental rights as free people. This is this person’s identity. That is all. That is their identity, true at blue 100%.
“And there is no law that they have the right to hide that public record from people by shoving it into a voter registration record,” he added.
As for her future, Lake has been cagey. It’s not clear that former President Donald Trump is considering her to be his 2024 running mate, but she has reportedly been spending a great deal of time at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“Kari Lake is there all the time,” an unnamed source told People magazine. “There’s a suite there that she practically lives in.”
However, a spokesperson for Lake denied that there was anything to those rumors.
“Kari Lake often speaks at events all over the country in support of America First candidates and organizations; and when she does have the honor of being invited to speak at the beautiful Mar-a-Lago, she overnights at Hilton properties in Palm Beach with her loving husband of 25 years,” said a statement from a Lake adviser to People.