The top two members of the Arizona Legislature have joined together to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with a Mohave County judge in support of providing Abe Hamadeh a “full and fair opportunity” to determine who received the highest number of lawfully cast votes in the 2022 General Election race for Arizona Attorney General.
“Our system of government depends on the accurate tabulation of every legal vote,” the brief on behalf of Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma states.
Petersen and Toma make clear they “take no position” on the question of which attorney general candidate received the most votes.” But they ask Jantzen to carefully consider the new evidence cited by Hamadeh, who is referred to in the election lawsuit as the Contestee.
Much of that new evidence involves serious tabulation errors in Pinal County that was not disclosed by then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs until a week after Hamadeh’s election challenge was denied.
The brief also addresses the argument that Hamadeh’s motion should be dismissed because Kris Mayes was sworn in as attorney general earlier this month based on a 280-vote margin of victory following a statewide recount.
The imperative of an accurate counting of votes “does not lapse on Inauguration Day; it imparts to the courts an enduring obligation to guarantee a full and fair adjudication of every bona fide dispute that may be material to the determination of an election,” the brief authored by attorneys Thomas Basile and Kory Langhofer argues.
“The nearly unprecedented circumstances surrounding this proceeding underscore the judiciary’s indispensable role in ensuring that the certified winner of an election did, in fact, receive the highest number of lawful votes,” the brief adds.
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The lawmakers also defended Hamadeh’s right to have filed that election challenge back on Dec. 9, and urged the judge to reject calls by the defendants (Hobbs, Mayes, and Maricopa County) for Jantzen to sanction Hamadeh and his legal team.
“Even if the Court decides not to grant Contestants a new trial, their claims and
conduct in these proceedings were not sanctionable. Not even close,” the brief states. “In context, the Defendants’ sanctions demands evince a noxious admixture of political vengeance and—in the case of the Secretary of State—abuse of power.”
The brief goes on to argue that whether Hamadeh wins or loses in the final count, “it would be unjust to punish the Contestants solely for raising and pursuing questions of enduring public importance to the voters of this State and the integrity of its elections.”
Speaker Toma told Arizona Daily Independent he was disturbed by the request from Hobbs for sanctions in the form of attorneys’ fees against Hamadeh’s lawyers for bringing a good-faith election contest.
“The Legislature created state laws that expressly allow voters to contest election results,” he said. “Election contests promote transparency, fact-finding, and an independent judicial inquiry when there are credible questions surrounding the accuracy of certified election results.”
Toma also noted the precedent that could be set in such cases.
“Arizonans should not be threatened by their own government officials with punitive penalties for raising measured and modest questions in what was the closest election for statewide office in Arizona history,” he said.
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