Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio at 50.74 Percent; Maricopa County Has 34,450 Votes Left

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell is reporting that, after today's count of outstanding ballots, 34,450 remain, 34,000 of them provisionals, and 450 of them earlies.

See also: -Arizona's Vote Count vs. California's, and Maricopa County Has 66,550 Ballots Left

"We have completed the verification of all of the provisional ballots," Purcell stated in a press release Monday afternoon. "And the balance of what is left will be on tomorrow's report, which will include those ballots that need additional research, our Braille ballots, and our large print ballots."

Sheriff-for-Life Joe Arapio continues to hold on to a bare majority of the votes counted in his race, with 50.74 percent of the vote, or a 6.09 point lead over his Democratic rival, former Phoenix Police Sergeant Paul Penzone.

ARPAIO 674,530 50.74 PENZONE 593,505 44.65 STAUFFER 61,292 4.61

That 6.09 lead may seem substantial, but it's a close shave by Arpaio standards, the closest he's had in recent memory. In 2008, Arpaio scored 55 percent to Democrat Dan Saban's 42 percent, a 13-point landslide.

Take asinine Republican-turned-Independent Arpaio-stooge Mike Stauffer out of the current equation, add his numbers to Penzone's, and you'll see how far Arpaio's fallen in the esteem of the electorate.

The anti-Arpaio vote now stands at 49.26 percent: 1.48 points or 19,733 votes behind Arpaio.

Yeah, the pro-Arpaio vote's won the day, practically by one of Arpaio's nasty gray nose hairs. The remaining ballots counted likely will narrow the spread further.

Still, these results give you an indication of the public's widespread dissatisfaction with Arpaio's performance as sheriff.

Arpaio blew $7,177,756.36 on getting re-elected to his sixth term in office. As of today, that's $10.64 for each ballot cast.

Personally, I think this helps make the case for a recall of Joe, though there are many factors involved, and I don't think any group should try unless they believe they're going to have the organization and the funding to score the signatures needed.

But if they can make it happen, well, party on, Garth.

CARMONA 1,030,647 46.14 FLAKE 1,099,207 49.21

The Carmona v. Flake match-up narrowed just a wee bit more, with Flake besting Carmona by 3.07 percent or 68,560 votes, at last count.

The Arizona Secretary of State's office has indicated to me that Pima County Elections is finished with its vote count, so only Maricopa County has to finish up. (Pima County has yet to confirm this to me, though.)

SOS Bennett is promising to address some of the legitimate issues raised in the aftermath of November 6.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Bennett states that he wants to have the state's election system revamped and streamlined by 2014.

That's when he might be running for governor, so he has an incentive to make progress. He noted that Arizona would have looked even worse to the nation if for some reason the presidential contest had hung on results in Sand Land.

"I want 98 percent of all the ballots to have been scanned into the system and counted by election night," Bennett told the AP. "And the next morning, as an election family statewide, we're dealing with 10,000 to 15,000 ballots, and we're done in two days."

He also suggested that we find a way of dealing with the precinct-rule regarding provisional ballots. As I discussed in a previous post, Arizona law currently says that if a provisional is cast in the wrong precinct, it does not count.

An 2010 ACLU report I cited found that about a third of provisionals were thrown out in 2008, most because of this law.

"Right now we're operating like a bank that has 1,000 branches," Bennett explained, "but when you show up to deposit money you can only deposit at the branch you opened your accounts at."

New legislation would be needed, and I hope Bennett lobbies to change the existing law. Maybe enough Rs and Ds would get on board to put it on the governor's desk. A little bipartisanship, for a change, would be nice.

Bennett will also need all of the counties on the same team, since they administer our elections.

But if the result of all of the acrimony and complaints over this election is a faster, more efficient, and more voter-friendly system, at least we will have gotten something out of it.

At some point, perception becomes reality. If people believe that the system is rigged, that their vote doesn't count, then that perception needs to be changed, so Bennett needs to make sure he follows through.

Because there is an intense distrust among many citizens when it comes to public authority in Arizona. If that's not addressed, more anger and suspicion is sure to follow.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons