Trump campaign concedes on Arizona lawsuit; says ruling on presidential election 'unnecessary'
PHOENIX - Donald Trump's campaign has backed off on a lawsuit against Maricopa County questioning the integrity of the state's election.
Court documents released Nov. 13 from the campaign stated that Joe Biden's lead over the president cannot be overcome, making a judicial ruling in the matter 'unnecessary.'
"Since the close of yesterday's hearing, the tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors," campaign attorneys wrote.
However, the lawsuit is still ongoing as they claim the issue of overvoting is still in play for two races: the Board of Supervisors District 1 and State Senate District 28.
A hearing was held on Nov. 12 about the integrity of Arizona's election.
The hearing was held after President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County, asking a judge to have some ballots get a second look.
The lawsuit was announced the same day Joe Biden was projected as the President-elect. Overvotes, or basically voting for two people in one race, was at the center of the case brought forward by the Donald Trump campaign in Maricopa County.
"When a machine detects an overvote on a ballot, poll workers should inform in-person voters of the error and give them an opportunity to correct the issue. Instead, poll workers in Maricopa County pressed, and told voters to press, a green button to override the error. As a result, the machines disregarded the voter’s choices in the overvoted races," read a portion of an e-mail released by the Trump campaign on Nov. 7, detailing the lawsuit.
There were 191 overvotes in the election, and an attorney for the campaign spelled it out in his opening statement, going against what many are claiming was widespread election fraud.
While Trump’s lawyers initially said there could potentially be thousands of Trump votes within the ballots in question, they now say that number would be lower.
"This is not a fraud case," said Kory Langhofer. "We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit. We’re not alleging anyone’s stealing the election. That’s not our theory here. In what appears to be a limited number of cases, there were good faith errors in operating machines, that should result in further review of certain ballots."
The Trump campaign alleges poll workers didn’t instruct some voters about the possibility of overvotes. Some Witnesses called by the Trump campaign said they were concerned about their votes not counting, but said they didn’t overvote in the presidential race.
Meanwhile, lawyers with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office argued there was almost flawless accuracy beyond the less than 200 overvotes.
"Maricopa County employees responsible for this election in 2020, specifically on November 3 in the midst of a pandemic, made Maricopa County elections great again," said Thomas Liddy.
Arizona officials seek dismissal of Trump’s election suit
Attorneys defending Arizona election officials argued Thursday that the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that seeks the manual inspection of Election Day ballots should be dismissed because the campaign hasn’t proven systematic errors in the way poll workers handled ballots that were rejected by tabulation machines.
Of the 166,000 ballots cast on Election Day in Maricopa County, 961 contained overvotes, including the 191 overvotes cast in the presidential race.
The case was being heard as Democrat Joe Biden held an advantage of about 11,000 votes over Trump in Arizona as 7 p.m. Thursday, with about 16,000 ballots left to count across the state.
The attorneys defending election officials argue Trump is in effect seeking a recount, which isn’t allowed in Arizona unless the margin between candidates is 200 votes or less, or one-tenth of 1% of the votes cast, whichever is the smaller number. The Trump campaign said it isn’t seeking a recount — it’s asking for the counting of ballots that were never tabulated.
Roopali Desai, an attorney representing Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, vigorously disputed the campaign’s claim that overvotes require the county to conduct a manual inspection of the ballots. Scott Jarrett, director of Election Day and emergency voting for Maricopa County, testified that he wasn’t aware of any mistakes in which poll workers inappropriately pressed the override button on Election Day.
Three Trump voters testified that they voted for only one person in the presidential race but still wondered whether their votes were counted because poll workers pressed the override button after their ballots were spit out of tabulators, without explaining the consequences of hitting that button.
One of the voters in question, Laura Christians, said her father, who served as a poll worker for more than 35 years, told her that the process she witnessed was incorrect. “I kind of put my own hypothesis together. I don’t know if my vote was counted or did not count,” Christians said.
Hobbs’ office has called the challenge filed by the Trump campaign a repackaged version of the now-dismissed #Sharpiegate lawsuit over the use of markers to complete Election Day ballots in Maricopa County. Her office said Trump’s lawsuit in Arizona was aimed at sowing confusion and undermining the democratic process.
In a separate lawsuit Thursday, the Arizona Republican Party asked a court to order Maricopa County to make a change in how it conducts a random hand-count audit of a sampling of ballots as a quality control measure.
The lawsuit asks for the sample to be taken on a precinct level, rather than among the county’s new vote centers, which let people vote at any location across the county. The party said there are far fewer vote centers than there were precincts and that hand counting by precinct could result in a more precise sampling of votes that allows for more reliable comparisons of data from past elections.
The Maricopa County Elections Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.
In a letter Thursday to Arizona legislative leaders, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office said it has suggested to Maricopa County that it consider increasing the percentage of ballots to be audited from 2% to 5%.
“Although not required, it is certainly permitted and may help alleviate much of the concern that has been expressed in the past week about the integrity of the vote tabulation process,” wrote Joe Kanefield, Brnovich’s chief of staff.
The attorney general’s office isn’t a party to the lawsuit.