State's highest court legitimizes questions about election integrity

 May 3, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The state Supreme Court in Arizona has legitimized questioning doubtful election results, throwing out a lower panel's ruling that the Arizona GOP should be sanctioned for its actions following the 2020 vote count.

report in the Arizona Sun Times has confirmed the unanimous ruling tossed a decision to sanction the state party and its lawyers over their challenge to the integrity of that count.

"The AZGOP sued Maricopa County election officials over how they conducted the mandatory hand count audit after the 2020 election," the report explained, revealing the high court confirmed a "merit" of concerns about elections, even if they are a "long shot."

Censoring such concerns would, in fact, chill election operations, the court said.

"We are pleased with the Supreme Court of Arizona’s decision to reverse and vacate the attorney fees awards previously levied against us," explained the state party. "This ruling reaffirms the fundamental legal principle that raising questions about the interpretation and application of election laws is a legitimate use of the judicial system, not a groundless or bad faith action. We remain committed to ensuring that election laws are followed precisely, upholding the integrity of our electoral process."

The decision was written by Justice John R. Lopez and not only vacated the state Court of Appeals decision but reversed a ruling from Judge John Hannah.

"We hold that the attorney fees award was improper because Petitioners’ claim was not groundless, thus obviating any need to determine whether the claim was made in the absence of good faith," the ruling said.

The dispute was over the charge that Maricopa County officials refused to follow the recount provisions in the state's law.

Hannah had claimed the election integrity concerns were made in "bad faith" and he imposed a penalty of some $18,000 on the GOP.

But the court ruling found Hannah didn't bother considering the merits of the case, choosing to claim procedures required him to dismiss it. Then Hannah slammed the merits of the case anyway, the report said.

"[T]he trial court chided Petitioners for focusing on ‘what section 16-602 says about hand count audit procedures’ rather than addressing the ‘procedural defects’ leading to dismissal of the complaint and the Secretary’s attorney fees motion. Nonetheless, the trial court dismissively described Petitioners’ interpretation of § 16-602(B) as ‘barely colorable’ despite its avowed disinterest in the merits and lack of substantive analysis," the report said.

The court found, "‘[R]aising questions’ by petitioning our courts to clarify the meaning and application of our laws and noting the potential consequences of the failure to do so — particularly in the context of our elections — is never a threat to the rule of law, even if the claims are charitably characterized as ‘long shots.'"

The fight over election procedures and counts in Arizona was just one of a multitude across the United States following the 2020 vote, in which Democrats in positions of power in states often altered or even ignored state legal requirements to push absentee voting and vote harvesting in light of the COVID pandemic.

In Arizona, as in other states, the changes in election processes left voters with some unexpected, and highly anomalous, results.

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