Please see updated numbers as of Sunday at the end of blog.
As votes continue to be counted throughout Arizona, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Jeff Flake's lead over Democrat Rich Carmona narrowed ever-so slightly, while in Maricopa County, Republican incumbent Joe Arpaio continued to dominate Democrat Paul Penzone in the sheriff's race.
Both Carmona and Penzone conceded to their GOP rivals on election night, much to the chagrin of some of their supporters, who have been holding out hope that the more than half-million votes remaining statewide will reverse these losing trends.
See also: -Kyrsten Sinema's Lead Growing Over Vernon Parker as More Ballots Are Counted -Arizona Secretary of State Reports 631,000 Ballots Uncounted (w/Updates) -Paul Penzone (Video), Rich Carmona Still in Play, and the Problem with Provisionals (w/Update) So far the numbers do not support this wishful thinking, particularly in the case of Penzone vs. Arpaio, where there was barely a change in the spread after Friday's count was added to the totals.
Currently, Arpaio has 85,670 more votes than Penzone, an 8.49 point spread.
In other words, that duck is dead in the water. Though I anticipate that the gap will narrow.
County Recorder Helen Purcell issued a statement late Friday afternoon, reporting that 17,656 early ballots were tabulated that day, and around 219,703 earlies remain to be counted in the county.
Provisional ballots remaining to be tabulated have risen in-county to 120,000, up 4,000 from Thursday.
According to county elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed, that number may rise as county workers verify the registrations for each ballot prior to tabulation. There were around 100,000 provisionals cast in Maricopa County in 2008.
Please see updated numbers below after the jump, Carmona is 4 points down as of Saturday evening.
In Carmona vs. Flake, the numbers barely moved on Friday. Flake now leads Carmona by 76,329 votes, a 4.25 point spread.
A reversal here remains possible, if unlikely. That said, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett reported that there are 524,663 early and provisional ballots outstanding statewide. And those are anticipated to skew Democratic.
In Congressional District 9, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema widened the gap between her and Republican Vernon Parker. The former state Senator now has a 4,068 vote lead over the Parasite, um, excuse me, Paradise Valley Tea Bagger, a bare 2.21 point spread.
Parker could overcome Sinema's lead, but with CD 9 leaning slightly D already, and provisionals and earlies likely to break Sinema's way, Parker best polish up his resume and start looking for gainful employment. (Which won't be with the Small Business Administration, that's for sure.)
Groups such as Promise Arizona in Action, Citizens for a Better Arizona, Adios Arpaio, and the ACLU of Arizona are decrying what they call a lack of transparency by state and county officials concerning provisional ballots.
The ACLU issued a press release Friday stating that, it had "sent a letter to county and state elections officials expressing concerns that the state's voter identification law may be resulting in a disproportionate impact on minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act."
Adios Arpaio will be running a phone bank all weekend, as volunteers call 10,000 citizens registered to receive an early ballot to see if they got one in the mail.
Spokeswoman Daria Ovide told me the group, which registered more than 34,000 new voters this year, is concerned with the number of provisional ballots cast in the county, now running about 20 percent more than in 2008.
The organization is trying to determine hard stats on folks who may not have gotten their early mail-in ballot, in hopes of finding out why they did not receive it in time, and in some cases had to vote provisionally.
Ovide said the group needs more volunteers. If you are so inclined, email her at email@example.com.
To address some of the concerns out there, SOS Ken Bennett held a press conference Friday in downtown Phoenix.
"Every vote will be counted," he promised reporters.
He was asked about the large number of provisionals cast and whether the problem disproportionately affected Latino voters.
"No one group of voters is being singled out," he insisted. "Provisional ballots come in from every precinct, from every voting location.
"They're coming in the same percentages that they came in the 2008 election...All of the voters in Arizona were redistricted in the last year and a half.
"Many counties including our largest, Maricopa, consolidated precincts, down from about 1,140 to about 750. So a lot of things happened during the last four years, and it's the same percentage overall and its happening in all precincts."
I asked Bennett a question that's been posed to me more than once: Why were the early ballots dropped off on election day not processed immediately?
He said the poll workers were dedicated to dealing with voters coming in to vote, not people dropping off mail-ins.
Also, as a mail-in ballot can be dropped off at any poll, the early ballots are boxed and delivered to the county, which then processes them.
"Each poll location does not have the signature forms of all the registered voters in the county," he told me. "There's no way for them to process an early ballot dropped off by a voter...We accept the ballot, collect it and send it down to central count."
My information is that in the days before the election, Maricopa County was inundated with ballots being dropped off by various groups. A backlog developed that the county has yet to whittle down.
Yvonne Reed, a spokeswoman for the county recorder's office, told me that around 90 county workers are helping to process ballots till the count is done.
However, she said they only have 11 machines to feed ballots through.
The count will take time. Bennett even explained that, if necessary, his office could extend the deadline necessary for the county counts to be done.
In a press release accompanying Bennett's press conference, the SOS had this reminder:
"Voters who cast a `conditional provisional' ballot (individuals had insufficient identification when they went to vote at a polling place) have five business days, or until the end of Wednesday, Nov. 14, to return to their county elections office with proper ID."
Voters can got to any of the county or city offices listed on the recorder's website.
I would also suggest that the county release a list of the names of individuals who voted provisionally to the county parties, so they can help contact those who cast a "conditional provisional" ballot.
Certainly the county Dems are eager to make those calls. Why not help them help the voters?
UPDATE 11/10/12 6:43 PM Here's the Saturday update from the county:
"Today 44,788 early ballots were tabulated and approximately 200,000 early ballots still remain to be processed for tabulation. The provisional ballot update is approximately at 122,000 for processing and tabulation."
Latest Penzone vs. Arpaio numbers:
ARPAIO 544,428 51.76 PENZONE 460,403 43.77 STAUFFER 46939 4.46
Arpaio's lead is now a 7.99 point spread. He currently has 84,025 more votes than Penzone.
PARKER 87740 45.58 SINEMA, 92450 48.03
Sinema now leads Parker by 4,710 votes, a 2.45 point spread.
And finally, Flake leads Carmona by 74,409 votes, exactly 4 points.
CARMONA 852,638 45.75 FLAKE 927,047 49.75
Sunday's update from the county:
"Maricopa County Recorder, Helen Purcell, is reporting another update for the 2012 General Election. Today 60,297 early ballots were tabulated and approximately 140,000 early ballots still remain to be processed for tabulation. The provisional ballot update is approximately at 122,000 for processing and tabulation."
ARPAIO 571,226 51.51 PENZONE 488,075 44.01 STAUFFER 49,717 4.48
As of Sunday afternoon, Arpaio holds a lead over Penzone of 83,151 votes, or 7.5 points.
That's less impressive if Stauffer's numbers are added to Penzone's. Together, Arpaio's two opponents garnered 48.49 percent of the vote, leaving Joe with a bare 3.02 point win.
Will be interesting to see if Arpaio dips below 50 percent as the counting continues. That would only lend a stronger argument to the idea of recalling him.
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PARKER 94,697 45.42 SINEMA 100,486 48.2
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema continues to kick Vernon Parker's Tea Party butt. She now leads Parker by 5,789 votes or 2.78 percentage points.
CARMONA 881,966 45.71 FLAKE 960,318 49.77
Flake maintains his lead over Carmona by 78,352 votes or 4.06 percent.