Rob O’DellCaitlin McGlade Justin Price Arizona Republic
(CNT) City News Talk #arizona
At least 600,000 ballots remained to be counted in Arizona as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to an Arizona Republic survey of country recorders.
County recorders had told The Republic early Wednesday that they had at least 400,000 ballots remaining to count, but Maricopa County officials didn’t yet know the number of mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day.
Megan Gilbertson, the Elections Department spokeswoman, confirmed the number of mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day totaled between 160,000 and 180,000. That along with additional information from the state’s rural counties pushed the number of ballots left to count above 600,000.
The Republic obtained figures from 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and not all of those election officials were able to provide a full tally of outstanding early and provisional ballots. Three counties still had not confirmed their totals on Wednesday morning.
About 450,000 of the state’s uncounted ballots are in Maricopa County, according to Gilbertson.
Maricopa County’s total of uncounted ballots now stands at:
248,000 early ballots that arrived on Monday and Tuesday.
160,000 to 180,000 early ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.
18,000 provisional ballots, about 10,000 of which are from Election Day and the remainder from early voting.
Provisional ballots are given to voters who can’t verify their ID at the polls or who received a mail-in ballot but decided to vote in person. Election officials must verify a voter’s registration before the provisional ballot is counted.
Maricopa plans to release ballot totals twice on Wednesday: At 7 p.m. and potentially again after 10:30 p.m., Gilbertson said.
Arizona’s uncounted ballots are of national interest.
President Donald Trump, who trailed former Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona, said his campaign “has a lot of life” in Arizona.
“There were a lot of votes out there that we could get because we’re now just coming into what they call Trump Territory,” he said. “I don’t know what you call it, but these are friendly Trump voters.”
Yet Trump, as he suggested many times before Election Day, also invoked the idea that any result other than a victory for him would be illegitimate.
“We did win this election,” he said from the White House early Wednesday, even as he trailed Biden in the number of electors already called.
Trump claimed he had won Georgia and North Carolina, states where hundreds of thousands of ballots had yet to be counted and no media organizations had called the race. He also pointed out that he was leading in Pennsylvania. Though more than a million ballots there remained to be tallied, Trump said he would seek court intervention and suggested the count there should be stopped.
“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.”
All voting had already stopped and, as is the case in all elections, states are now counting ballots that came in before election deadlines.
Axios reported on Sunday that Trump had told confidants he planned to declare victory on election night if he appeared to be ahead.
Even as Trump was announcing court intervention to stop the prolonged counting, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey was calling for the opposite.
“Not so fast,” Ducey tweeted, after the Associated Press projected a Biden win in the state. “Let’s count the votes and let the people decide rather than making declarations.”
AP has declared Biden the winner of Arizona’s 11electoral votes and Mark Kelly as winner of the state’s U.S. Senate race, a call that rival Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign criticized because of the number of uncounted ballots.
Surveying county officials
The Republic survey of Arizona county recorders and election departments also found:
About 49,000 ballots, including about 18,000 provisional ballots, remained to be counted in Pima County, according to Deputy Pima County Recorder Chris Roads and the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.
Nearly 43,000 were left to tally in Pinal County, most of which were early ballots.
10,394 in Yuma County, a majority of which also were early ballots.
8,210 in Yavapai County, mostly early ballots.
8,000 in Coconino County, a figure that only includes early ballots that arrived in the mail before Election Day, but not those dropped off Tuesday or any provisional votes.
More than 12,000 ballots remain in Cochise County.
And an estimated 13,000 ballots in Apache, 2,350 ballots in Gila County, 274 in Santa Cruz County, 1,103 in Graham County and 652 in Greenlee County.
When early, provisional and Election Day ballots are counted
After polls close on Election Day, county election departments around the state first release their tally of early ballots, which have been counted before Election Day. This usually occurs at 8 p.m.
These ballots are often called “early” early ballots.
In Maricopa County, the early ballots include those processed by Sunday. The timeframe for counting and reporting those “early” early ballots depends on the county. Pima County, for example, counted early ballots through Tuesday morning.
After the early ballots vote totals, county officials count ballots cast at the polls on Election Day.
This number is often reported as the number of precincts reported. However, even when 100% of precincts have reported, there are still hundreds of thousands of votes to be tallied, including the “late” early votes — those that arrive after the county stops processing early ballots or those that are dropped off on Election Day. In Maricopa County, ballots that arrived in the mail on Monday and Tuesday, along with those dropped at the polls, are in this group.
Counties also have to count provisional ballots that are cast at the polls because of issues with identification.
In previous elections, after Election Day, there have been more than 600,000 outstanding “late” early votes and provisional votes left to count.
In races with razor-thin margins, this can delay a decision on the outcome because election officials have to verify signatures for the early ballots before counting them and wait for provisional voters to bring in their ID. In some cases, results can be delayed as much as a week while elections officials verify and count ballots.