Kari Lake does not have the right to get Maricopa County early voters' ballot affidavit envelopes with their signatures, a judge ruled today.
After an unusual two day public records request trial in September, Superior Court Judge John Hannah waited until the end of his 60 days to issue his opinion. The 12-page Minute Entry (below) explains why he concluded that Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer was correct in denying Lake's PRR for the envelopes.
Hannah indicated that he had earlier denied the County's Motion to Dismiss the Special Action lawsuit because the parties had not clearly defined whether the envelopes that voters sign to indicate that they had legally voted the ballot inside were part of the "voter registration record".
Having now considered the matter further, the Court concludes that the Recorder correctly relied on section 16-168(F) as a basis for refusing to disclose the ballot affidavit envelopes. As a matter of law, section 16-168(F) presumptively forecloses wholesale disclosure of the ballot affidavit envelopes to Ms. Lake because they are “records containing a voter’s signature,” and because the Recorder in fact makes them part of the “voter registration record” and uses them for signature verification in subsequent elections.
Hannah also curtly disposed of Lake's attorneys' (Bryan Blehm
and Kurt Olsen) argument that they needed the envelopes as part of their ongoing legal challenge to the results of the 2022 gubernatorial election. The Minute Entry notes that that case is well beyond the trial and evidence-gathering phases - it is on appeal - and, importantly, that they had not even argued that Maricopa County had erroneously verified an early ballot through a bad signature match. Instead, Lake had claimed the County did not do any signature matching. "That argument failed. She does not get to start over with a different argument now."
In a memorable conclusion to the Minute Entry, Judge Hannah went back to Aesop's Fables for an analogy.
This article was reported by AZ Law founder Paul Weich.
"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet.