Why the Kari Lake Lawsuit Matters

Let’s get something straight. Kari Lake is not going to become the Governor of Arizona in this election cycle. The gap is too large, and the claims she makes are not enough to overcome it. Yet even if/when she loses, the importance of fighting the fight should not be understated or ignored

Going through the first day of the trial, we saw a lot of the claims made by the Lake team. According to AZCentral, “Printer malfunctions caused vote-counting machines to reject some ballots at up to one-third of polling locations, causing frustration and long lines but, according to county officials, no disenfranchised voters.” (The ACLU has previously argued the long lines are a form of voter suppression.)

How did these malfunctions occur? Testimony from IT expert Clay Parikh alleges that the malfunctions were done deliberately. Printer presets were intentionally changed which caused Election Day Malfunctions.

Parikh testified Wednesday that “red tape” securing boxes of the ballots he inspected were not adequate as security measures, and he suspected that ballots were not organized properly, seeming to lend weight to Lake’s theory that the county’s chain of custody was corrupt.

“Parikh saw nearly 50 out of 113 “spoiled” ballots that he said had a serious flaw: They consisted of 19-inch ballot images printed on 20-inch ballot paper. The bad print job causes ballots to be rejected by the tabulators, he said, and implied this could have happened to many more ballots. He said the problem must have been intentional because it could have only happened by changing the printer adjustments or changing the setting to the app that creates the ballot style.”

This was not the only accusation of malfeasance. “Heather Honey of Haystack Investigations, a Pennsylvania company that worked as a subcontractor on the Arizona Senate’s partisan audit of the 2020 election, testified that the county had a sloppy chain of custody system and, referring to affidavits as part of the lawsuit’s 7,000-plus pages of exhibits, how Runbeck employees allegedly could insert ballots at will into the system without a proper record.”

“Runbeck employee Denise Marie, who’s expected to testify on the trial’s second day, stated in an affidavit that employee family members were allowed to turn in ballots to the company’s Phoenix facility in violation of Arizona law. Honey, who had interviewed Marie as part of her review of Maricopa County’s 2022 election, suggested — as the lawsuit does — that any number of unaccountable ballots could have been inserted into the system this way. She theorized that the county’s failure to follow procedural rules and the law must have been purposeful.”

“Somebody,” she said, “made the decision not to do it.”

Let’s assume that none of this is enough to actually overturn the results of the election or to call for a new election. Why does it matter that Lake is actually making the argument.

Voters do not trust the electoral system, that is true on both sides of the aisle. The partisan divide in policy has long spread to a partisan divide in the voting process, with 2020 being a catalyst for the explosive distrust that we see today. The only way we can move forward as a nation that actually believes the results of elections is if we scrutinize elections themselves.

There are people, individuals behind these malfunctions and deliberate modifications. Giving them the confidence that they got away with it will only embolden them and others like them to continue with it. They should fear the system, they should fear being exposed. They should be afraid of fines, jail time, and the loss of careers. They should feel like they are walking on eggshells because they are in charge of elections.

The Lake lawsuit matters because it can be the impetus needed to create a system that is free from these “errors”, either deliberate or accidental. It will get the state legislatures act together to properly fund the electoral process and audit it as necessary. It will pressure the incoming administration to secure the process that gave them victory. Trust must be reestablished, but it won’t be if those that lost aren’t afraid to look for the fire when there is a LOT of smoke.

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