Maricopa County will need more time to count ballots, and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett says they can have it.
This, according to spokespersons for both Bennett and the Maricopa County Elections Office.
"[County Recorder] Helen Purcell has indicated they'll need more time," SOS spokesman Matt Roberts told me today. "We encourage them to take all the time they need to verify their ballots."
County Elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed confirmed this.
"We will process and tabulate until the last has been counted," Reed stated.
Most of what the county has left are provisionals. According to the latest update, around 120,000 ballots remain, 103,000 provisionals and 17,000 earlies.
Today, 9,867 early ballots and 11,162 provisional ballots were tabulated by the county, according to Reed.
Statewide, Bennett's office estimated that "163,482 early and provisional ballots" are left to process.
Wednesday was the last day for people to present proper ID at county offices so that their "conditional provisional" ballot could be counted. That's a ballot cast by someone lacking the necessary identification under state law.
"We had 1,035 conditional provisional ballots and 55 voters came in with proper identification," Reed explained.
Such is the fruit of Arizona's voter-suppressing Prop 200, passed in 2004, and requiring voters to show valid ID at the polls.
Elections law attorney Jim Barton, counsel for the Arizona Democratic Party, told me that state law requires that county elections officials verify provisional ballots for tabulation within 10 days of the election.
According to the statute, a provisional ballot "shall be verified for proper registration of the elector by the county recorder before being counted," and that "verification shall be made by the county recorder within ten calendar days after a general election."
Note: This is just "verification," as defined above, not the actual vote count.
Barton, a Democrat and once an Assistant Attorney General, said the statute does not preclude an extension or tell counties that they have to stop verifying provisionals after 10 days.
Also, a law cited by the Arizona Secretary of State's office yesterday, indicates that counties have until "the fourth Monday following the general election" to submit their official tallies to the SOS.
And the SOS can cut counties even more slack on the actual vote counts, giving them "thirty days" from the election date to get it in.
"I can almost guarantee to you the votes will be counted," Barton told me, observing that in the 2008 presidential election, Arizona did not finish tallying votes until at least 15 days after election day.
"If they were to stop counting ballots," Barton said of the current count ongoing, "folks would go to court [to force the count to continue]."
A November 20, 2008 article from the Arizona Republic noted that a close race for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission between Sam George and Bob Stump took 15 days after the November 4 election date to be decided because not all results were in from the counties.
"Stump led George late on Election Day," the piece reads. "But as more votes were tabulated Nov. 5, George took a 1,000-vote lead.
"As days dragged on and early and provisional ballots were counted, Stump retook the lead, and with the Secretary of State's Office reporting Thursday that all votes had been counted, Stump was up 2,353 votes."
Another Rep article from around the same time noted that there were 200,000 early and provisional ballots left after election day 2008.
As I mentioned in a previous post, a 2010 report from the ACLU of Arizona states that provisional ballots are required by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.
The idea was to make sure that a voter showing up at a polling place, but not on the list of registered voters, is able to cast a ballot.
Problem is, in Arizona, as in many other states, some provisionals end up being tossed on a technicality.
If the provisional is cast in the wrong precinct, it doesn't count.
The ACLU report noted that in 2008, a little under 100,000 Arizonans voted provisionally, and of that number, about a third were tossed because they were cast in the wrong precinct.
Here are further updates:
ARPAIO 639,143 51.21 PENZONE 552,287 44.25 STAUFFER 56668 4.54
Arpaio leads by 86,856, or 6.96 percent, almost no change.
MCSALLY 139,070 49.74 BARBER 139,993 50.07
Barber's up 993 votes, or 0.33 percent.
CARMONA 973,068 45.78 FLAKE 1,054,654 49.62
Flake's up by 81,586, or 3.84 percent. Again, almost no change.
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Interestingly, Barton told me he was the lawyer who submitted the complaint to the U.S. attorney's Office on Jeff Flake's suspicious robocalls to Dems.
Though Barton couldn't say more, more than one outlet has reported that the robocalls, which sent voters to wrong polling places, are being investigated by the FBI.
Flake's camp has maintained that the calls were for Rs, but we know Ds got them.
Sounds like sneaky stuff. Could it have been a mistake? Maybe, but as close as that election was, nothing would surprise me.