Martha McSally Can't Stop Vote-Counting in Race With Congressman Ron Barber

Republican Martha McSally has lost her bid to stop certain provisional ballots from being counted in her race against Ron Barber for Arizona's Congressional District Two seat.

With all precincts accounted for but some ballots remaining to be counted, McSally, an Air Force veteran, is winning by fewer than 400 votes to incumbent Democrat Barber after last week's election.

See also: -Ron Barber Says Threat Won't Deter Him From Job; Arizona Suspect Indicted

An update this morning from the Arizona Secretary of State's office shows that about 5,000 early ballots and nearly 10,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted in Pima County, which makes up most of CD2. Counting in that county was expected to resume this afternoon.

Lawyer Eric Spencer for McSally and Dan Barr for Barber were in a court hearing this morning to argue the challenge, which hinges on certain provisional ballots that don't contain the signature of an election official. Spencer had filed a motion to block the counting until the issue of the ballots' validity could be resolved.

Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner told the lawyers that the signatures weren't the only thing that made the provisional ballots official, and he saw no "irreparable harm" in allowing the counting to continue.

If McSally holds on to her slim lead, no automatic recount would take place. Arizona law requires a recount for congressional races if the difference in votes is less than one-tenth of a percent of the total number of votes cast in the general election, which would be fewer than 200 this year.

The 2012 race between the two candidates was close, too, which is typical for the somewhat purple district.

Correction: McSally has the slim lead, not Barber, as this post mistakenly stated for a bit.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.