Democrats pad narrow leads in Arizona Senate, governor races
Although Democrats extended their lead in key Arizona contests on Wednesday, the races for U.S. Senate or governor were too early to call as only about a fifth the ballots had been counted.
Republican Blake Masters was beaten by Mark Kelly, a Democratic senator. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, had a narrower lead of 1.4 percentage points over Republican Kari Lake in determining the winner of the governor’s race. The races for secretary-general and attorney general were also won by Democrats.
Maricopa County includes more than 60% of the population and is expected to report results from Friday’s crucial ballot group — almost 300,000 ballots returned on Election Day. This group has changed dramatically in recent elections, going from being strongly Democratic in 2018 to becoming strongly Republican in 2020.
The outcome of the late-counted votes will determine whether the races are more 2018-like or 2020.
This will decide who wins the extremely close races for U.S. Senate, House, Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. The rules for the 2024 presidential elections in a key battleground state are at stake.
Three-term Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who was elected to the House in 2013, lost his race to Republican Eli Crane. Crane is a businessman and former Navy SEAL. His rural district was redrawn to be significantly more conservative. Democrats had hoped O’Halleran’s extensive history and background as a retired cop would help him survive.
Trump’s lies regarding the 2020 election have changed voting patterns throughout the country, especially in Arizona. Arizona has been a key player in conspiracy theories that the outcome was tainted. This makes it more difficult for news organizations to announce winners, as historical data isn’t always applicable.
It may take several days to determine who won the close contests. This was also the case for the 2018 and 2020 elections. About 500,000 ballots were not counted, with most of them located in Tucson and metro Phoenix.
Officials from Maricopa County stressed that the process this year was not different from previous years.
Bill Gates, Republican chairman of the county board and supervisors said that “this is how things work here in Arizona” and has been for many decades. He stated that staff work 14-18 hours per day and will continue to do so through the weekend.
Gates stated, “We are doing all we can while still maintaining accuracy.”
Long-running vote counts have been a feature of Arizona elections for many years. In Arizona, the vast majority of voters vote by mail ballots. Many wait until the last moment to return their ballots. As Arizona has evolved from a GOP stronghold into a competitive battleground state, delays have become an increasing source of national anxiety for both parties.
It takes time to process mail ballots because officials must verify that voters did not vote in person and that their signatures on the ballot envelopes match the ones on file. Officials in Maricopa County reported that they received an unprecedented number of returned mail ballots on Election Day.
With Republicans still in the hunt, it remained unclear whether the stronger-than-expected showing for Democrats in much of the U.S. would extend to Arizona.
Republicans wanted more results because they believed the remaining ballots were strongly in their favor.
After falsely claiming that Trump’s loss to Joe Biden was fraudulent, the GOP nominated a slate which earned Trump’s endorsement. Lake claimed that Maricopa County officials were “slow rolling” results releases to make it appear like Democrats are doing better than actually they are.
Lake stated that “We’re going win this and there’s nothing they can do about, but they’re trying t pour cold water upon this movement,” Charlie Kirk, conservative radio host, said. “This movement is on fire and no amount water will put it out. We the people want our government back.”
Gates denied Lake’s claims of a deliberately slow count and stated that ballots were counted according to the order they arrived.
He said, “We are absolutely no slow rolling it.” “And if their teams had been paying attention to before the election they would have heard us repeatedly talking about how we weren’t going to have results on election day, and that it would take days to get them there.
Lake pledged to call legislators into special session immediately after being sworn-in to make major changes to Arizona’s election laws. She would like to drastically reduce the number of voters who choose early or mail voting in Arizona. Also, she wants to have all ballots count by hand which, according to election officials, would take a lot of time.
Hobbs tweeted, “This election will not be decided by the volume at the which an unhinged former TV reporter can shout conspiracy theories,”
Officials from Maricopa County claimed they were able count 17,000 ballots that were lost due to a printing error. On-site vote-counters were unable to read those ballots due to a printer issue at 70 of the 223 poll centers. This caused delays in certain locations and angered Republicans who counted on a strong Election Day turnout.
The three-member Cochise County Republican-controlled board of supervisors in southeast Arizona’s GOP-heavy Cochise County pointed out the problem in Maricopa County and asked the state Supreme Court for permission to hand-count every ballot cast. They are appealing against a decision that prevented them from doing more than the traditional hand-counting of a small number of ballots to verify the accuracy of the tabulation machines.
Experts in technology and election have noted that the machines can be certified, tested and retested faster than hand counting, which can sometimes lead to errors.