Arizona Count Drags on: Hundreds of Thousands of Ballots Outstanding

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    Election officials from Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state, reported the results of 74,951 votes Friday night that broke toward Democrats. Soon after the results came in, the Associated Press called the U.S. Senate Race for Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and the Secretary of State race for Democrat Adrian Fontes.

    The statewide results in four of the state’s major races were as follows as of 4:13 p.m. Eastern Saturday, with an estimated 83 percent of the total vote reported, according to the New York Times:

    U.S. Senate Race

    Kelly: 1,128,917 – 51.8 percent
    Republican Blake Masters: 1,005,001 – 46.1 percent
    Libertarian Marc Victor: 46,189 – 2.1 percent

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    Governor’s Race:

    Democrat Katie Hobbs: 1,100,005 – 50.7 percent
    Republican Kari Lake: 1,068,908 – 49.3 percent

    Attorney General Race:

    Democrat Kris Mayes: 1,074,673 – 50.45 percent
    Republican Abe Hamadeh: 1,055,522 – 49.55

    Secretary of State Race:

    Fontes: 1,129,144 – 52.8 percent
    Republican Mark Finchem: 1,011,019 – 47.2 percent

    Heading into Friday evening, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates stated that the majority of the drop would include early ballots dropped off on Election Day. He added that it would also include the remainder of early ballots received before Election Day, as well as “a good amount” of the approximately 17,000 ballots from in-person voters, whose ballots were placed into secure boxes after tabulators did not read them at polling centers.

    In a press release, Maricopa County officials stated that an estimated 265,000-275,000 outstanding ballots remained after Friday night’s results and reported the breakdown of these remaining ballots to be:

    Estimated Election Day ballots to be reported: 5,000
    Estimated early ballots left to process and tabulate: 254,000
    Estimated number of early ballots left to cure: 13,000
    Estimated provisional ballots left to research: 1,114 (7,885 total)

    ABC 15 Data Analyst Stephen Archer offered insight as to why Friday’s ballot drop favored Democrats when the majority of the ballots were the Election Day early votes thought to break for Republcians.

    He noted that the drop included ballots from all over the county, “but there was a concentration of ballots from South Phoenix,” which explained the batch of votes favoring Democrats. The data analyst asserted Friday night that “the GOP calvary is coming” as a batch of 114,000 Election Day drop-off ballots that have been “transmitted to the elections department will break in favor of” Republican Kari Lake. These were not included in Friday night’s results, and it is not clear when they will be reported.

    He later added that “based on the affidavit transmission party data we still have some very, very friendly batches coming for R slate in Maricopa.”

    Another batch of ballots is expected to drop around 8:00 p.m. local time, and “[m]ost of the outstanding ballots are from vote rich GOP strongholds” Archer tweeted Saturday.

    “Probably worth a point or two to the overall total for GOP slate.” He added. “As I said before: Knife’s edge.”

    Box Three Ballots “Co-mingled” with Tabulated Votes at Maricopa Two Vote Centers

    On Friday, Masters appeared on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and told Host Tucker Carlson that ballots from the 17,000 Election Day in-person voters that were not read by tabulators and submitted into Box Three were “mixed-up…with ballots that had already been counted.”

    “So it’s a giant disaster, it’s a giant mess to try to unmix these ballots,” he added. “I think the most honest thing at this point would be for Maricopa County to wipe the slate clean and just take all of the ballots and do a fresh count.”

    Gates acknowledged to CNN that the box three ballots were “co-mingled” with Election Day in-person votes at “two vote centers” and said the county has a process for separating the ballots:

    There were two vote centers where the ballots that went into box three were actually co-mingled with the ballots that went through the tabulator. Now here is the thing, we can absolutely address this and we will. In those two instances we know exactly how many people checked in at that vote center. We can then check the total number of ballots that were left there, either tabulated or in box three, and determine if they’re the same. We can segregate those out and make a determination and best thing of all is that we will do this with a Republican and Democrat observers watching this to make sure everything that checks out.

    He added that “every one of those votes is going to be tabulated” and that “wiping this slate clean” and “counting over again” is “not allowed for under Arizona law.”

    Hand Count Audit Begins Saturday

    At a press conference on Friday, Gates noted that a “hand count audit” in Maricopa County was set to start Saturday:

    This is a very important part of the process, it’s required under Arizona law, and this hand count audit allows us to ensure that the machines are operating correctly. This will be a statistically significantly amount of ballots that will be involved and there’s two parts of it. First of all there are the early – they’re the early ballots, the mail-in ballots – and those have actually been selected, the batches have been selected over the past few weeks by the political parties…

    … So they’ve been identifying batches, and then also there was a drawing on Wednesday to select the vote centers that are involved in that and there are five Vote Centers, I believe. Interestingly, they are all form the west valley, but these were selected randomly, and we’ll be looking at a few races so its not a hand count of all the races.

    He added that the races involved in the audit will be the “U.S. Congress, State Rep., Propr 129, and governor.”

    “So again, this is mandated by law, and we are very confident this is going to go well, but these are three-person boards,” said Gates.

    Megan Gilbertson, the Communications Director for the Maricopa County Elections Department, said that the Vote Centers included in the audit are “Flight Goodyear, Journey Church, Estrella Foothills High School, Maryville Bridge, and Sevilla Elementary.”

    The voting locations were randomly selected out of a hat by the county’s three political party chairs.

    Gilbertson added that “statistically significant” “means that there’s enough ballots selected in that to ensure that the tabulation equipment is counting ballots accurately.”

    “There is a vote count verification committee in the state of Arizona that selects that margin and is able to ensure that the ballots that are counted will make sure that the tabulation equipment is counting those ballots accurately, so it’s just one more check on the system,” she added.

    “It’s by law, so it’s one percent of early ballots, or five thousand, whichever is fewer. So here in Maricopa County, we do five thousand,” said Gilbertson. “And then we also do 2 percent of vote centers, and because there are 223 sites, we’re going to do 5 Vote Centers.”

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