Arizona Attorney Tim La Sota has filed an Election Contest lawsuit against Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, alleging some votes counted in the State Senate race for Legislative District (LD) 22 were “overvoted.”

“The votes must be properly tabulated, and that may result in a different eligible candidate receiving the highest number of lawful votes. Immediate judicial intervention is necessary to secure the accuracy of the results of the November 8, 2022 general election, and to ensure that candidate who received the highest number of lawful votes is declared the next State Senator from legislative district 22,” according to the lawsuit.

La Sota filed the suit on Monday with certified Maricopa Count elector Shelby Busch named as the complaint’s plaintiff. Aside from Hobbs and Richer, Eva Diaz is named as the other defendant. Diaz is one of the Democrat write-in candidates for LD 22 and the projected winner of the race after receiving 6,629 write-in votes.

However, the lawsuit alleges that a portion of those votes should not be counted. Busch claims that some votes cast in this race filled in the bubble to vote for the withdrawn nominee, former State Representative Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson), while also supplying a write-in candidate. Under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 16-611, if “the voter marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office,” then that ballot shall not be counted. These ballots are treated as “overvoted,” yet Busch alleged that Maricopa County still counted these ballots for the write-in candidate based on “erroneous legal advice” from the Secretary of State’s Office (SOSO).

While Busch did not specify exactly how many votes were illegally counted in Diaz’s favor, she claimed that a “complete and correct tabulation of all lawful ballots may establish that another candidate was the recipient of the most votes” in this election.

Ultimately, Busch requested the court order Maricopa County properly count the votes cast for this race and remove any overvotes from the total so a true winner could be declared.

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to Maricopa County and the SOSO for a response to this lawsuit but did not hear back before publishing time.

As reported by The Sun Times, LD 22 became a contentious race in September when Espinoza withdrew despite running unopposed and winning the August primary election against State Rep. Richard Andrade (D-Glendale). Espinoza left the race after it was too late to replace his name on the ballot, which is why it came down to a write-in. LD 22 is traditionally Democratic, but if some voters split amongst several Democrats while others united behind a single Republican, it may have been possible to flip the seat.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake encouraged her supporters to rally behind write-in candidate Steve Robinson.

However, data from Transparency USA shows that Diaz’s apparent victory had a lot of help. Diaz received over $94,000 in contributions, more than Espinoza ever did. From that money, Diaz spent $55,000, eclipsing the resources Robinson had, who received nearly $16,000 and was outspent nearly 11 to one.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Photo “Stephen Richer” by Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. Background Photo “Courtroom” by 12019.