Pima counting 14k ballots, no update until Fri. evening
218k votes left to tabulate across Arizona
Stare as long as you want at our live vote tracker, but there won't be an update of Pima County's ballot count until round 5:30 p.m., officials said. "Several thousand" of the 14,000 outstanding ballots were expected to be tallied Friday, with another 10,000 provisional ballots being reviewed.
Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson is "uncertain how many ballots they'll be able to get through today but said they will try to get through as many as possible," said county spokesman Mark Evans.
"The Recorder's Office is still verifying about 10,000 provisional ballots. The Recorder's Office said provisionals take longer to verify than early ballots and it may be several days before they are ready for counting," Evans said.
An update will be posted this evening, he said.
"Both the Elections Department and Recorder's Office will work through the weekend to complete the count," Evans said Thursday.
A webcam showed that Pima County's vote-counting center was far from a hive of activity around 10:40 a.m. Elections officials said that an absence of observers from political parties meant they couldn't continue the count Friday morning, and that the count would resume around 1 p.m.
Statewide, there were about 218,000 ballots yet to be reviewed and tallied, according to data released Friday morning by the Secretary of State's Office.
In the latest results, Martha McSally led U.S. Rep. Ron Barber by 363 votes Thursday, after being up just a few dozen votes in the count Wednesday morning. Barber picked up 960 votes in the spread as Pima County reported additional vote tallies. In one of the few hotly contested local legislative races, incumbent Republican Ethan Orr was narrowly losing his state House seat.
The totals stand at 98,918 for the Republican challenger, and 98,555 for the Democratic incumbent in the CD 2 race. Tens of thousand of votes remain to be tabulated in Pima County, with many of them potentially affecting the race.
In 2012, Barber won by just 2,454 votes when all the votes were counted — which took days. His margin was less than one percent of the votes cast in the race.
"The vote leads continue to go up and down ... the trend is mimicking 2012," said Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn in a press release Thursday night. While Cochise County is a Republican stronghold, results from the more populated Pima County lean more Democratic.
The McSally camp didn't immediately issue a statement on the latest returns.
While it's not known how many of the outstanding ballots are from CD 2, about 10,500 of the votes added to the count on Thursday were from the district, Evans said.
The last few elections to determine Southeastern Arizona's congressional representative have taken days to tally, and this one looks to be no different.
Read more about the long count in Pima County
In Pima County, a complete vote count could take another week, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said Thursday. Broken election machines and a high number of difficult-to-read ballots have slowed the process, he said.
With more than 40,000 ballots left to count on Thursday morning, Huckelberry said that a "higher than average number of ballots that cannot be read by the existing scanners" and two broken ballot scanners were contributing to the long count.
In one of the few hotly contested local legislative races, incumbent Republican Ethan Orr was narrowly losing his state House seat in LD 9. After Thursday's update, Democratic incumbent Victoria Steele had 30,286, Orr had 29,759 and Democratic challenger Randy Friese had 29,992 votes in the vote-for-two contest.
Although the Dems focused on beating Orr, whom they believed they could oust from his seat in a Democratic-leaning district, two other Ds are losing in state House races in solid blue districts.
In LD 2, incumbent Demion Clinco — appointed earlier this year — trailed seat-mate Rosanna Gabaldon and GOP challenger Chris Ackerley. In LD 4, Charlene Fernandez was trailing fellow Democrat Lisa Otondo and Republican Richard Hopkins.
Read more about Cochise County's ballot troubles
Technical troubles in Cochise County — where McSally made a strong 59-41 percent showing in 2012 — again delayed a complete tally there. In a repeat of problems demonstrated in the August primary, county officials said that they delivered their early ballots to Graham County to be counted.
"Due to discrepancies between the early ballot counting machine numbers and the handwritten tally, the County's early ballots have been delivered to Graham County for tabulation," said a notice on the Cochise website.
While Cochise officials said on their website that the early ballot count should be completed Wednesday, there were still a few thousand left to tally on Thursday evening.
Jim Vlahovich, the interim director of the county's election department, said 2,121 early ballots and 1,161 provisionals remained to be counted.
Incomplete returns reported there showed McSally up 8,318 to 3,911 over Barber Wednesday morning, with the afternoon tally standing at 19,864-13,415 in favor of the Republican.
Vlahovich said Thursday that he didn't yet have an explanation for the problems with the Cochise count.
In Pima County, which is partly covered by Barber's CD 2, there were nearly 24,000 ballots remaining to review Friday morning. In a process that can take up to 10 days, provisional ballots and early ballots handed in on Election Day must be verified before they can be counted. There were about 14,000 ballots remaining to be counted, and 10,000 provisional ballots still needing to be reviewed, Evans said.
About 23,000 early ballots were dropped at the polls on Tuesday, he said. The number of voters who cast ballots in person rather than return their early ballot won't be known until all of the provisional ballots are reviewed.
Not all ballots will be valid. The reason for the delayed count is the process of reviewing early ballots returned on Election Day, to ensure that duplicate ballots were not cast by individual voters, and the verification of provisional ballots.
Voters can drop mail-in ballots at polling places on Election Day, so officials review the voter rolls to ensure that voters do not vote more multiple times. Otherwise, a voter could cast a mail-in ballot and also vote in person at the polls.
Provisional ballots are cast by voters who do not have the proper ID, who are not listed on the rolls of the polling place they are casting a ballot at, and for other reasons. For voters who lacked proper ID, they have until 5 p.m. next Wednesday to provide proof of their identity at the County Recorder's Office, in order for their vote to be counted.