Abe Hamadeh asks court for emergency hearing in Arizona attorney general election challenge

Abe Hamadeh, Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general.
Abe Hamadeh, Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general.

Republican attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh requested an emergency hearing in Mohave Superior Court on Wednesday after failing to reach agreement on a ballot inspection in three counties.

That ballot inspection was supposed to happen Wednesday.

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, a Republican, sent a declaration joining Hamadeh’s side. The hearing is set to take place Thursday morning.

The ballot inspection is provided for under election contest statutes and the trial for Hamadeh's challenge begins Friday. Hamadeh is trailing Democrat Kris Mayes by 511 votes in one of Arizona's closest statewide elections.

In the emergency request, Hamadeh asked the court to compel Maricopa County to provide an unredacted copy of the initial 2022 General Election Cast Vote Record and the names of voters whose provisional ballots were not counted. He also is asking the court to clarify how much time he has under election statutes to inspect the ballots and the amount of people allowed to inspect the ballots. Lastly, he requested the court to name ballot inspectors in Navajo and Pima counties.

A Cast Vote Record, which is electronic, is defined in the emergency request as "essentially a spreadsheet in which each row corresponds to a ballot that has been cast and each column indicates a voter’s choice on thatballot for each race."

Hamadeh's attorneys argue that is necessary to find ballots in an expedited manner that line up with the concerns brought up in the original election contest.

In his declaration, Bennett said: "Candidates cannot effectively exercise their right to contest elections unless they are given an opportunity to review the election's CVR."

Hamadeh's attorneys also say that a full list of voters whose provisional ballots were not accepted is needed to ensure the enfranchisement of all voters in Maricopa County.

There is disagreement between the plaintiffs and Arizona's most-populous county on how much time they have to inspect the ballots. Hamadeh's team is seeking two days while Maricopa County says it can only do one day.

And there is disagreement between the plaintiffs and the defendants, who include Mayes, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and various local election officials about how many people can inspect the ballots. Election statutes provide for three people to examine ballots: one from each side and one representative from the court.

The emergency request says the defendants believe this means that the same three people are allowed to inspect all of the ballots, while Hamadeh's team argues the law allows for different groups of three individuals that represent the defendants, the plaintiffs and the court. Thus, the plaintiffs are asking the courts to appoint people to examine ballots in the two other counties where they are requesting ballot inspection: Pima and Navajo. They say that is necessary because of how far the counties are from each other and the short amount of time they have to inspect ballots.

Tara Kavaler is a politics reporter at The Arizona Republic. She can be reached by email at tara.kavaler@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @kavalertara.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Hamadeh seeks emergency hearing in Arizona AG election challenge