Judge tosses Abe Hamadeh’s latest bid to be named Az AG after 2022 loss

Two years, two failed lawsuits and a
new campaign for a new office later, would-be Attorney General Abe
Hamadeh is still racking up losses in the courts. 

On Monday, a Maricopa Superior Court judge threw out Hamadeh’s latest bid to be awarded the seat he lost in 2022 by just 280 votes to Democrat Kris Mayes. In January, the Republican filed a writ of quo warranto,
claiming that his defeat was due to unlawful signature verification
procedures being used by Maricopa County officials and urging the court
to install him as the rightful winner. 

The writ was a legal change of tactic after a bevy of election challenges were dismissed for being filed before the race was finalized, failing to provide a convincing argument, including no evidence and lying to skip over the appeals process. A quo warranto instead petitions a court to issue a declaration that someone is holding office illegally.

Hamadeh, who lives in Scottsdale, is now running for Congress in a West Valley district.

Contention over signature verification processes were at the heart of Hamadeh’s arguments. State law
requires election officials to certify mail-in ballots by verifying
that the signature on the ballot’s affidavit envelope actually belongs
to the voter who submitted it. 

Prior to 2019, Arizona law allowed
only the signatures on voter registration forms to be compared against
those on mail-in ballots. But lawmakers later greenlit the use of
previously submitted and verified ballot signatures, in acknowledgement
that a voter’s signature may change over time. 

Despite that, Hamadeh alleged that
Maricopa County election officials erroneously used ballot signatures
from past elections to verify ballots submitted in 2022, injecting
thousands of illegal votes and tipping the race against him. Hamadeh
asked the court to order that Mayes step down and require that Maricopa
County redo its signature verification or conduct an entirely new

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
Susanna Pineda wasn’t convinced, pointing out that Hamadeh has made the
same argument against the county’s processes in other lawsuits and has
been told it isn’t valid. During his second attempt to overturn his loss
in December of 2022, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen dismissed a complaint against signature verification
processes advanced by Hamadeh’s attorneys, noting that the time had
long since passed to bring up issues with how election officials do
their work. 

The courts have consistently ruled
that legal challenges against election procedures must be brought before
an election occurs, and Hamadeh had ample time to learn how Maricopa
County conducts its elections, Pineda said. Not only have the procedures
been standard practice since 2019, but the county also issued a public
news release outlining its plans, including how it verifies signatures,
in May of 2022 — months before the November election. Hamadeh’s request
that the court nullify an election two years after the fact over an
issue that should have been litigated before it was even carried out
warrants an immediate rejection, Pineda said. 

“By filing his action after the
completion of the election, (Hamadeh) asks the Court to overturn the
will of the people, as expressed in the 2022 election. Because
(Hamadeh’s) complaint is strictly a question of attacking the process
used to carry out the election, his claim is untimely and mandates
dismissal,” she wrote in her ruling.

On top of retracing ground that has already been sufficiently covered, Hamadeh doesn’t have the grounds to file a writ of quo warranto,
Pineda added. Arizonans who submit a writ hoping to gain the seat in
question must thoroughly prove their claim to it, not merely cast doubt
on the current officeholder. But all that Hamadeh offered to bolster his
claim and justify the extraordinary legal relief he seeks is
speculation, Pineda said. 

“He surmises, without proof, that he
received the most ‘legal votes’ for the office of Attorney General. This
is insufficient to obtain the relief sought,” she wrote.

Pineda offered a blistering criticism
of Hamadeh’s filing, saying that he should have been aware that it
would fail to move forward. Attempting to cloak already dismissed
arguments in a writ of quo warranto makes
no difference, Pineda said. She denounced Hamadeh’s request as a bad
faith filing and granted requests from Maricopa County officials and
Mayes to recoup attorneys fees. 

“Waiting until December of 2023 to
mount a second identical challenge to the Maricopa County process is
unjustified and groundless,” Pineda wrote, adding: “The fact that this
‘elections challenge’ was cloaked in a shroud of quo warranto and
mandamus, did not change the fact that it was an elections challenge
that had already been lost.”