Why Arizona Election Results Take Days

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WASHINGTON — The polls closed in Arizona two days ago, but the count for the 2022 midterm elections continued Thursday as officials continued to count votes cast in Maricopa County and statewide in outstanding races for the Senate and Governor.

Arizona’s votes are announced in waves and usually take until after Election Day itself to count. The wait is not new, although in recent cycles the intervening pause has become a controversial time that some candidates have used to voice doubts about the integrity of an election.

Here’s a rundown of how things are rocking as the vote count continues in Arizona:

WHAT IS EXCELLENT?

No winners have been named in any of the top-shelf races in Arizona, including Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly against the Republican Blake Masters, as well as the open governorship race between Katie Hobbs, the Democratic Secretary of State, and Republican Kari Lake, a former TV broadcaster.

The The Bharat Express News also did not name winners in contests for the Arizona Attorney General and the new Secretary of State. And no race calls have been made in some of the state’s US House races.

Lake was about a point and a half behind Hobbs, and the Republican nominee for attorney general was also narrowly behind. Democrats had a 5-point margin in the US Senate and Secretary of State races, but with so many ballots outstanding, the games were too early to call.

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WHAT ARE THE RULES OF THE GAME?

Almost all votes in Arizona are by mail, and counting all those ballots can take a while, especially in a county the size of Maricopa. Maricopa, the largest and fourth largest in the country, has a total population of 4.5 million and about 2.4 million registered voters.

Early votes in Arizona can be counted as they come in, meaning officials don’t have to wait for polls to close on Election Day to start.

WHAT HAPPENED ON ELECTION DAY?

There were some Republican activists in Arizona who advocated that voters deliberately wait until Election Day itself to hand in their ballots. Part of this push was based on unfounded theories that fraudsters could manipulate voting systems and manipulate the results for Democrats, once they saw how many GOP votes had been returned early.

Experts had also warned that such a last minute mass vote could lead to delays that could eventually be used by a bad actor to undermine confidence in the election. There were some hangings this year. About a quarter of polling stations in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, had a printing problem Tuesday, with the markers not displaying correctly when voters showed up to print their ballots.

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The problem was eventually fixed and election officials assured voters that every vote would be counted.

Most Arizona counties do not count the ballots internally, but instead deliver them to a central facility. Maricopa County officials are counting the ballots at their central facility, where hundreds of Trump supporters, some of whom were armed, protested after his election loss in 2020.

WHY DOES THIS SOUND TRUSTED?

There was intense scrutiny of Arizona’s trials, rules, and counts after the 2020 election, when Joe Biden achieved his smallest margin of victory in the state, becoming the first Democratic presidential hope Arizona won since 1996.

However, in the weeks following those elections, there were numerous protests and the results were challenged by the courts.

In 2016, a decision to reduce the number of Maricopa County polling stations during the presidential preference primaries resulted in hours-long queues that caused some voters to leave the polls without voting.

In the primaries two years later, dozens of polling stations in the province were not yet set up and ready to accept voters when polling stations opened, resulting in mounting problems throughout the day.

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But there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

WHEN WILL WE GET NEW NUMBERS?

Officials estimate that there were about 320,000 votes left in Maricopa County to count, after a share of 80,000 was posted late Thursday. Tens of thousands of those were ballots that came in on Election Day itself — votes known in some places as “late earlylies,” which are known to hold up the count.

Across Arizona, officials said there are nearly 500,000 votes left to count, with a margin in the governor’s race of just under 27,000 votes.

About 17,000 ballots – or about 7% of the ballots cast in person on Election Day – were set aside because of the problem with printers in about a quarter of polling stations in the province. A judge turned down a Republicans request to keep the ballot box open, saying he saw no evidence that people weren’t allowed to vote, and officials said those votes would be counted throughout the week.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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To learn more about the issues and factors involved in the 2022 midterm elections, visit https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. Follow TBEN’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at: https:/ /apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-selections