In southern Arizona's Second Congressional District, Republican Martha McSally has claimed victory over Democratic Congressman Ron Barber, as a count of all the ballots has put McSally up 161 votes on Barber.
"All ballots are now counted and the voters have made their choice," McSally said in a statement. "We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we've seen from across Southern Arizona. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the voters and everyone who knocked doors, stuffed envelopes, made calls, hosted events, donated to our campaign and put in the countless hours to make this victory possible."
One minor detail: There's going to be a recount.
State law calls for a recount of ballots in races separated by less than one-tenth of one percent, or 200 votes, which qualifies this race for a recount.
Additionally, this recount won't get started until after December 1.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett's spokesman Matt Roberts tells New Times that the recount process requires the certification of the state's election results, known as the election canvas, to be completed before the issue is brought before a judge, who will green-light the recount.
"We can't go to a judge before statute allows us to," Roberts says. "We don't have that information formally and officially until we have the canvas, even though we know [a recount is required]."
McSally is aware of this recount, despite claiming victory, adding in her statement, "While we still have a recount to go, we expect similar results and will provide the necessary oversight to ensure accurate results. I want to thank the voters again for their support and trust in me and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work from day one to serve Southern Arizonans in Congress."
And Barber's camp isn't ready to let McSally take the victory.
"A few days after asking a judge not to count the votes of hundreds of Arizonans, Martha McSally is ahead by 7 hundredths of a percentage point," Barber spokesman Aaron Nash-Hahn says in a statement. "Arizona's law calls for a mandatory recount with a margin this tight. Instead of declaring victory, we should unite in the commitment to count the votes of Southern Arizonans, and respect the outcome when it is final."
Nash-Hahn added, "The law is written this way because every election includes some human error, and with an election as close as this one, it is important that we ensure the integrity of the results."
Speaking of human error, while the Pima County Elections Department was still counting the provisional and early ballots in the days after the election, it announced yesterday that it found 213 extra ballots that hadn't been counted.
Here's what happened: The office had mailed out early ballots to people who lived in a certain school district, telling them to pick three candidates, despite the fact that only two seats were open. The elections department then mailed a separate ballot with just that school board race on it, and these 213 votes came from people who put their general-election ballot inside the envelope meant for the school board race, and mailed it back to the elections department.
Tucson Weekly, one of the media outlets reporting on that discovery, had reported that McSally's lead was at 133 votes by the time that announcement was made. She was up by 161 votes at the end of the day.
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The elections department in Pima County also took heat in 2012 because it was very slow in counting ballots. Again, that year, McSally and Barber were in a tight race, and it took a couple of weeks for it to become clear that Barber had won by less than 2,500 votes.
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