Barber/McSally: All over but the re-recounting
Pima and Cochise counties have finished the machine recount in the race between U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and likely winner Martha McSally, but there won't be any results released until next week. First, a hand recount of random ballots will be performed Monday, and used to verify the accuracy of the machine count.
Results from the counties must be submitted to state officials by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
With McSally up by just 161 votes, a recount in the congressional race was automatic under Arizona law. Another look at the ballots is triggered when the margin is less than 200 votes.
While Pima will perform the required hand count on Monday — done with randomly selected precincts and batches of early ballots — Cochise will tackle that task on Friday.
If the hand count shows variations of more than a small handfuls of votes from what the machines tallied, the law calls for all of the more than 200,000 ballots to be counted by hand.
That's not likely, with the hand-count check in the first tally of the votes having shown no errors.
The totals in CD 2 are 109,704 for the Republican challenger, and 109,543 for the Democratic incumbent. While a different distribution of votes will likely result from the recount, compared with the initial count, previous Arizona recounts of even larger ballot pools have resulted in changes in the tally that are less than the margin in the CD 2 race.
The last recount at the state level was 2010, when Proposition 112, which would moved up the deadline to file petitions for citizens initiatives, trailed by 126 votes in the official canvass. The recount confirmed that the measure failed, though the margin increased to 192 votes.
Earlier in the CD 2, a move by Barber to include more ballots in the tally was shot down by a judge. Some 133 ballots rejected by elections officials should have been included in the count, Barber said.
Before that, a move by McSally to exclude some provisional ballots from the count was also rejected by a judge.
Both campaigns have continued fundraising efforts during the recount, and both have played their cards close to the vest regarding any possible legal moves.
Under Arizona law, an election challenge is still an option.