Feathered Bastard

Arizona's Vote Count vs. California's, and Maricopa County Has 109,000 85,300 66,550 Ballots Left

Please see additional updates and analysis at the end of this blog post.

Maricopa County has 109,000 ballots remaining, according to the latest update from County Recorder Helen Purcell: 12,000 of those are early ballots, 97,000 are provisionals

Statewide, there are 135,140 ballots left. Those not in Maricopa County are in Pima County, as you can see above.

Friday marked the 10th day following the election, a soft deadline for the counties to be done verifying their provisional ballots to be tabulated.

But as I reported Thursday, SOS Ken Bennett has already indicated that counties can take more time to ensure that all votes are counted.

See also: -Arizona Vote Count Updates: 163,482 Ballots Left Statewide, 120,000 in Maricopa County -After Election Day, AZ's Far Right Now Has a Fight on Its Hands

Though I understand the anxiety, there has never really been a risk of the remaining votes not being processed. In one recent blog, I noted that in 2008, Arizona's vote count went 15 days past election day.

There was even an Arizona Corporation Commission race in 2008 that went down to the wire because of the grueling count.

Many Democrats, progressives, Latino activists, and even less-liberal observers, have fumed at Arizona's slow vote count.

Anger, frustration and outrage boiled over into protests and vigils outside the county recorder's office in Phoenix. Folks have complained of long lines, not receiving their early ballots, and of having to vote provisionally at county polling places.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recently charged Arizona with holding a "botched election," one that was "broken on purpose."

Bloggers have referred to it as Arizona's elections "debacle," the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts called the Grand Canyon State "the Florida of elections."

Is Arizona the slowest state when it comes to counting ballots? Many critics have noted that Florida's final unofficial tally wrapped up last week, while Arizonans are still waiting.

WSVN-TV 's report on Broward County ballots found in a warehouse

But Florida's election has been no cakewalk. Miami Dade's WSVN Channel 7 recently reported that Broward County discovered almost 1,000 uncounted ballots in a storage facility.

The report states that each Broward ballot was five pages in length, and it describes long lines at Florida polls.

"Last Tuesday, close to 800,000 people voted in Broward County, some waited in lines for four to five and sometimes six hours," states the online write-up of the report above.

Florida was the butt of many jokes when its unofficial count in the presidential election came in four days late.

Um, that's right, four.

"[T]he nation held Florida in ridicule, wondering why we can't get our election act together," read one article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Hey, Florida, Arizona feels your pain.

And then some.


If you want messy, there's always Ohio, where folks went to court to try and force Secretary of State Jon Husted to count certain provisionals cast by people who did not record their identification info on their ballots.

Husted, a Republican, appealed the decision to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and won.

What about our big blue neighbor to the west, California? Surely a progressive state such as that, with Democrat Jerry Brown as Governor, has all of its votes counted at this late date.

Think again, ballot-breath. As of Thursday, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, reported that there were 1.7 million ballots left to be counted.

Those numbers have yet to be updated, BTW.

Of course, California has more than 18 million registered voters, at least six times Arizona's 3.1 million registered voters.

As of today, Los Angeles County, a blue bastion if there ever was one, had an estimated 340,684 ballots left to count.

LA County has 4.7 million registered voters.

The day after the election, The Los Angeles Times reported that 792,000 votes remained uncounted in the county.

Beginning to sound familiar?

You'll recall that Arizona was reporting more than 630,000 uncounted at one point.

San Diego County has 1.56 million registered voters, still under Maricopa County's 1.85 million, but close enough for a comparison.

On November 7, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that San Diego County had 460,000 ballots remaining to be counted.

On Thursday, San Diego County reported that it had 120,000 ballots remaining to be counted. That number should be updated soon.

Interestingly, in San Diego County, Democrats now enjoy a slight registration edge over Republicans.

And the City of San Diego just elected its first Democratic Mayor in two decades, according to the Associated Press.

I guess you could assume that these California counties have had relatively "slow" vote counts because its public servants are incompetent or have some ill-intent.

But I don't think so. There are a lot of other factors at play, the popularity of mail-in ballots, being but one.

That's not to discount the real angst many here felt on election day. And there are real problems to be addressed: long lines, poll worker training, certain legislative restrictions on provisionals, not to mention Prop 200, Arizona's voter-ID law, passed in 2004 by popular vote.

The county's communications with the public need to be improved. And if someone believes he or she was denied the right to vote in this election, obviously that should be investigated.

Elections lawyer Jim Barton, who serves as counsel to the Arizona Democratic Party, told me that he was monitoring the polls on election day, and he saw a number of flaws in the system, mainly administrative issues, but serious nonetheless.

He said he encountered only one actual report of malicious voter suppression on election day, but the report was not substantiated when both the party and county elections sent people to check it out.

Barton was also concerned that instead of directing voters to their proper polling place, poll workers might have just given people provisional ballots to fill out then and there. More out of laziness than anything.

The problem with that is, if the ballots are cast in the wrong polling place, they don't count.

I asked him about the concern that there was a lot of overt voter suppression in this election, beginning with Maricopa County flubbing the election date on Spanish language materials.

"Our obsession with finding malicious voter suppression has the potential for preventing us from addressing the real dangers [in our voting system]," he suggested.

I tend to agree. That's not to say Arizona elections are ever free of shenanigans. One need only think of Darin Mitchell, Constantin Querard, or Olivia Cortes.

And the Jeff Flake robo-calls may be another recent example.

In any case, here are the Friday updates on key elections from Maricopa County and SOS:

Arpaio v. Penzone

ARPAIO 644,223 51.17 PENZONE 557,444 44.28 STAUFFER 57,239 4.55

Arpaio is up 86,779 votes, or 6.89 percent.

Carmona v. Flake

CARMONA 987,776 45.90 FLAKE 1,065,383 49.50

Flake leads Carmona by 77,607 votes, or 3.6 points.

Barber v. McSally

MCSALLY 141,771 49.66 BARBER 143,173 50.15

Barber is up by 1,402 votes, or 0.49 percent.

UPDATE 11/17/12:

This just in from the Maricopa County Recorder's office: After today's count, there are approximately 85,300 ballots remaining, some 4,300 early ballots, and 81,000 provisionals.

Not much change in the races above, but you can read the latest results for yourself at,




UPDATE 11/18/12:

According to the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, after today's count, 66,550 ballots remain in-county, 65,000 provisionals, and 1,550 earlies.

There's a little narrowing in the Arpaio v. Penzone numbers, but at a glacial pace. Currently, Arpaio's up 6.48 percent, or 84,259 votes.

But if Penzone's numbers are added to Stauffer's look how close it becomes: 1.9 percent, with the anti-Joe vote at 49.05 and the pro Joe vote at 50.95.

And the anti-Joe vote is at 637,299, or a mere 24,729 votes behind Joe, in this scenario.

ARPAIO 662,028 50.95 PENZONE 577,769 44.47 STAUFFER 59,530 4.58

Carmona v. Flake is tighter than a Grecian vase:

CARMONA 1,014,693 46.05 FLAKE 1,086,737 49.32

Flake's up by 3.27%, or 72,044 votes. Will be interesting to see how close this one gets. I don't know what Pima has right now. Regardless, the math is not there for a reversal. Carmona would have to win almost all of the votes remaining.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons