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Kari Lake asks Supreme Court to take up voting machines case

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake filed enough signatures to qualify for the ballot Friday after asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up her case challenging the use of electronic voting machines that dates back to her run for governor in 2022.

Lake and former state lawmaker Mark Finchem, a Republican who lost the race for Arizona secretary of state in 2022, want the U.S. Supreme Court to give them a do-over of their losing claim that machines used to tabulate votes in some Arizona counties are so inherently unreliable that they violate their constitutional rights.

In a new legal filing, attorney Lawrence Joseph said his clients have new evidence that was not known when the pair first filed their claim ahead of the 2022 election, evidence they did not get to present to a federal judge in Arizona.

Under normal circumstances appellate courts — including the Supreme Court — look only at the record of a case to determine whether the trial was conducted fairly. Anything not in evidence at the time of the trial is legally irrelevant.

But Joseph told the justices there is enough for them to conclude that a new trial, with this new evidence, could result in a different outcome.

The case does not directly affect Lake's separate — and ongoing — litigation to have state judges overturn her loss to Hobbs for governor or, at the very least, order a new election.

But Joseph argued both Lake and Finchem suffered a "procedural injury” that could result in a “do-over.” 

“A court could order 'do-over' relief (i.e., counting the paper ballots) in the 2022 election as well as similar relief for future elections,” he wrote.

But, despite those claims and repeated unproven claims of fraud in past elections, Lake said she doesn't want to look backward.

“Well, it was run so poorly … that you would think that they would want to do that, but I don't,” Lake said. “I'm looking forward right now, because I think that that's a long shot for any judge to make that ruling.”

Lake said she is looking forward all the way to the general election, even though Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is also seeking the Republican nomination.

“We feel very confident. We know what the poll numbers look like,” Lake said. “You know, this is an expensive race. This is going to be $200, $250 million poured into this race, and we need to have somebody who has the ability to compete in that.”

Lake made the comments after filing over 10,000 signatures with the Secretary of State’s Office, well above the roughly 7,000 she needed to qualify for the ballot.

Even with a redo of the 2022 election, Joseph argued that underlying problems with vote tabulation machines remain and that affects Lake and Finchem, who both will appear on the ballot this year. Finchem is running for state Senate in a Prescott-area district after previously representing Oro Valley near Tucson.

In the original lawsuit filed ahead of the 2022 election, the pair alleged that the machines are unreliable because they are subject to hacking.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi rejected their claims, ruling they amounted to a “long chain of hypothetical contingencies”' that would have to take place for any harm to occur.

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel also concluded last year that the pair never presented any evidence that the machines used in Arizona to count ballots had actually ever been hacked. 

But Joseph wrote that they have new evidence that Maricopa County failed to follow state laws regulating the use of those machines. He alleged the county’s vote tabulators used software not certified for use in Arizona and also did not conduct statutorily mandated pre-election logic and accuracy checks prior to the 2020 general election 

"Potentially worse — although potentially unknown to Maricopa — the Dominion Voting Systems Inc. systems used in Maricopa and almost 30 states have a built-in security breach enabling malicious actors to take control of elections, likely without detection,'' Joseph said.

He also said that Lake and Finchem recently obtained "system log'' files from the 2020 election. What those show, Joseph said, is that Maricopa County's election software "has been surreptitiously altered with respect to components controlling how ballots are read and tabulated.''

What Lake and Finchem want is an opportunity to present all of what they say is new evidence at a new trial. All that, she said, will restore faith in the election system.

"Right now, that's just not the case,'' Lake said. But she brushed aside questions of whether that lack of faith is because people like her repeatedly make public pronouncements that the system is flawed.

"I think you need to just open your eyes and start talking to people outside of your newsroom and your bubble, and you'll understand that,'' Lake said.

Now the question is whether the justices, who have the benefit of access to the 9th Circuit ruling, find any of that persuasive.

There was no immediate response from either the Attorney General's Office, which is representing the state; the Maricopa County Attorney's Office; or the Maricopa County Elections Department.

Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.