- The race in Arizona’s closely watched Senate battle between Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly and Republican Blake Masters remains too close to call.
- Bill Gates, the Republican chair of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, the state’s most populous county, defended his elections team.
- In Nevada’s second most populous and notorious swing county, Washoe, home to Reno, at least 20,000 ballots were yet to be counted Friday.
Four days after Election Day, many Americans remain anxious and eager to know who their political leaders will be and where the balance of power will be in the House and Senate.
In a key U.S. Senate contest in Nevada, thousands of votes remain uncounted. And in Arizona, a record number of early-ballot dropoffs have slowed the count in a neck-and-neck gubernatorial election.
Some voters will have to wait weeks for answers, as control of the Senate could be decided in a runoff election in December in Georgia’s tightly-contested race between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.
The uncertainty comes as Republicans appear ready to take a victory lap if they win a majority of the House and the Senate, while Democrats are now faring better than many expected based on historic voting trends.
While Republicans have done well in some states, such as Florida and New York, they have “kind of flopped” in areas including parts of the Midwest, New England and Colorado, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center of Politics.
“There seems to be nothing unusual or nefarious going on if people want to complain about the waiting,” Kondik said. “There has been some conspiracy-mongering that’s completely unjustified.
“I don’t think there’s any funny business going on here,” Kondik concluded. “It’s a waiting game of sorts.”
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Elections results in Arizona could take weeks
The race in Arizona’s closely watched contest between gubernatorial candidates Democrat Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, and Republican Kari Lake, a former TV broadcaster, remained too close to call.
Lake has used the counting period, which is normal in Arizona, to make national headlines by accusing state election officials, including her own GOP colleagues, of purposely “slow-rolling” the vote count.
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Bill Gates, the Republican chair of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, the state’s most populous county, defended his elections team.
“Quite frankly it is offensive for Kari Lake to say these people behind me are slow-rolling this when they are working 14 to 18 hours,” Gates said.
Meanwhile, Hobbs urged patience and expressed confidence in the system.
“Despite what my election-denying opponent is trying to spin, the pattern and cadence of incoming votes are exactly what we expected,” Hobbs tweeted Thursday. “In fact, they mirror what our state has seen in recent elections. We must remain patient and let our election officials do their jobs.”
In Maricopa County, with 4.5 million residents, including Phoenix, and in Tucson, Arizona, with about 2.5 million registered voters, about 300,000 votes were still being counted after a record number of ballots were dropped off at sites, officials said. That includes a record number of voters in Maricopa County — about 290,000 — who dropped off their ballots on Election Day, which has delayed the counting, county officials said.
An estimated 80,000 ballots were to be added to Maricopa Country election results by late Friday, county officials said. More than 50% of those results will include ballots dropped off on Election Day, officials added.
It’ll be the first drop including those results, which could serve as a bellwether for campaigns eagerly waiting to see if voting patterns hold from 2020, which saw Republicans make strong gains as ballots dropped off on Election Day were tabulated.
Within those figures include provisional ballots, those unable to be read by tabulators at polling sites on Election Day and early ballots dropped off immediately before and on Election Day. The early ballots will need to be signature verified, separated from their signed affidavit envelope by a bipartisan team and then counted before they can be included in the results.
By state law, officials cannot begin counting provisional ballots and early ballots that need additional verification until five business days after Election Day.
Gates sought to push back on the idea that the counting process is taking longer than normal.
“For folks who have covered Arizona politics for a while, this is very, very common,” he said. “I know people are very anxious to get the results, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary here.”
The process generally takes 10 to 12 days, officials said.
“I’m going to stand up for my state,” Gates said. “We’re doing things the right way.”
Thousands of ballot counters are working through the weekend with hopes of getting most results reported by early next week, Maricopa County Election Director Scott Jarrett said. State law requires them to finish by Nov. 28.
“It takes time,” Jarrett said before the election.
As results trickled in late Friday, the competitive Senate battle between Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly and Republican Blake Masters ended with Kelly securing his win.
Nevada still counting ballots
With tens of thousands of ballots still in the balance in working-class swing-state Nevada, which has been hit hard by inflation as well as the pandemic, the results may not be called until early next week in the crucial, razor-thin U.S. Senate race.
Incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto was narrowly trailing Republican Adam Laxalt Friday by just 798 votes — and at least 23,000 mail ballots were yet to be counted in Clark County, the state’s most populous county and home to Las Vegas and its 1.3 million active registered voters.
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In Nevada’s second most populous and notorious swing county, Washoe, home to Reno, at least 20,000 ballots were yet to be counted Friday.
In Clark County, election officials expected to have their mail-in ballot count updated by Saturday, the last day state law allows mail ballots to arrive and be counted. Joe Gloria, the county’s registrar of voters, said he can accept ballots postmarked by Election Day.
In addition to the pending mail ballots, Gloria said his staff still needs to count more than 5,500 provisional ballots cast on voting machines.
But that count won’t occur until next week after state election officials send a provisional report, which state law requires before such ballots can be tabulated.
“I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that everything that we’re doing here in Clark County is moving those ballots as quickly as we can, but I have to caution you in saying we don’t want to move too fast,” Gloria said. “We want to make sure that we’re being accurate and validating the signatures and the identity…That’s a lot of work that’s involved.”
The uncounted mail ballots in Clark County are predicted to heavily favor Democrats.
With the votes still being counted, incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak conceded late Friday to challenger Republican Joe Lombardo.
“Serving you as governor for the last four years has been the honor of my lifetime,” Sisolak tweeted. “Thank you to everyone who believed in us and put your all out there. It’s important that we now come together to continue moving the state forward.”
Other midterm election results remain unknown
In other must-watch midterm madness, dozens of House races remain unresolved, including incumbent Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s razor-thin lead in her district against Democratic challenger Adam Frisch, which could lead to a possible recount.
“I told you all year, the Left would do everything that they possibly could to get rid of me,” Boebert tweeted Friday to her supporters to “pitch in” to her campaign. “As this race comes down to every last vote, I need you to help us ensure we have the resources to finish what we started!”
In California, there was some uncertainty in about a dozen of the state’s 52 House contests. The most contested are in Southern California and in the state’s Central Valley farm belt region.
In Southern California, Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin were in close contests in their races, despite an 11th-hour visit by President Joe Biden.
East of Los Angeles, GOP Rep. Ken Calvert was trying to stave off a challenge by Democratic candidate Will Rollins, who was within 1,500 votes, but just over half the ballots had been counted.
In the Central Valley region, GOP Rep. David Valadao, who once voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump, is trying to hold off Democrat Rudy Salas for reelection.
Contributing: Donovan Slack, Sean Rossman and Ella Lee, USA TODAY; Robert Anglen, Stacey Barchenger, Arizona Republic; Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com