Arizona's Supreme Court upholds Biden's win after GOP challenge

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected a request from the state’s GOP chairwoman to inspect more ballots in her lawsuit that seeks to undo Democrat President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Republican President Donald Trump in Arizona.

The decision Tuesday upheld a lower-court’s dismissal of Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that challenged certain ballots in metro Phoenix.

The justices said Ward didn’t present any evidence of misconduct or illegal votes and that the margin of votes between Trump and Biden wasn’t small enough to trigger an automatic recount, even with the small number of votes Trump could have lost due to problems in ballot processing. They cited case law that concludes the validity of elections isn’t voided by honest mistakes or omissions.

Ward had challenged ballots that had been duplicated in metro Phoenix because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or could not be run through tabulators.

Her lawsuit says some suburbs on the southeastern edge of Maricopa County had an unusually high number of duplicated ballots — and that election results in that area were “strongly inconsistent” with voter registration and historical voting data. It also alleged the software used in processing such ballots would “prefill” Biden’s name on ballots more often than it did Trump.

Her lawsuit led to a court-ordered inspection of more than 1,600 ballots. She then asked the state’s highest court to allow for more ballots to be inspected.

Attorneys defending election officials said it would be an extraordinary move for a court to reverse an election in which more than 3 million Arizonans voted.

Ward’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said, “we are evaluating options” for an appeal.

“For the Arizona Supreme Court to say there wasn’t enough evidence of error in the vote on the one hand, but on the other hand that we couldn’t see more, is to me an untenable result,” Wilenchik said.

Earlier in the case, a court-ordered sampling of 1,626 duplicated ballots found Trump lost seven votes due to errors in ballot processing in Maricopa County. An election official had testified Trump could have lost 103 to 153 votes if the error rate were extrapolated across all 27,800 duplicated ballots in the county. Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

The state’s election results were certified a week ago, showing Biden won Arizona. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet Monday.

No evidence of voter fraud or election fraud has emerged during this election season in Arizona.

Ward’s lawsuit is one of the six election challenges in Maricopa County that were dismissed, including one by the state GOP that sought to determine whether voting machines were hacked.

One election challenge remains pending in Arizona.

A lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of Trump’s proposed electors in Arizona seeks to decertify the state’s election results and alleges its election systems have security flaws that let election workers and foreign countries manipulate results.

Attorneys for election officials say the lawsuit uses conspiracy theories to make wild allegations not backed up by any proof against Dominion Voting Systems, one of Maricopa County’s vendors for voting equipment, to back up its claims of widespread Arizona election fraud.

Judge Diane Humetewa intends to issue a ruling by Wednesday afternoon over whether to dismiss the lawsuit.

Read the court's full ruling: