Election 2018 Senate McSally Arizona

Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, speaks with voters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Senate race between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally remained too close to call Wednesday as the unexpected flood of voters left more than 650,000 ballots statewide left to count, further ratcheting up the tension in the contentious race.

Only a small fraction of votes separated the candidates, with McSally ticking ahead with 99 percent of precincts counted, according to the Secretary of State’s website. The total votes counted reached more than 1.7 million as of Wednesday afternoon, including votes for the Green Party candidate who dropped out of the race last week.

Election officials said it likely will be at least Thursday before unofficial vote tallies for the McSally-Sinema race are in, as officials have to count ballots from remaining precincts, provisional ballots and “late early” ballots – those that were dropped off at the polls.

In Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, about 475,000 ballots need to be counted, according to Garrett Archer, a senior analyst with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Archer said early ballots have become a robust tradition in Arizona. He said “late early” ballots, which don’t get counted on Election Day, now are undergoing a signature-verification process.

“They’re essentially processing what is three or four days of early ballots as soon as possible … this is pretty standard for state general elections,” he said, adding that the count also involves a detailed review of provisional ballots.

“The counties set up teams that do the research for these provisional ballots, just to ensure the person who filled out the ballot is who they say they are,” Archer said. “It’s just one extra step.”

While they wait, Sinema, the Democrat, and McSally, the Republican, are staying out of the public spotlight. That’s a shift from a race that drew national attention for its tense battle between two candidates vying to be Arizona’s first female senator.

Arizona has not had a Democratic senator since Dennis DeConcini retired in 1995, and it has never sent a woman to the Senate in the state’s 106 years.

Neither McSally nor Sinema spoke to supporters at their respective watch parties Tuesday night. Organizers told crowds to leave about 11 p.m. after it became apparent no clear winner would be decided. Calls to both campaigns Wednesday were not returned.

Election-result delays are hardly new for Arizona. In 2012, Colorlines.com spoke with a representative for the Secretary of State’s Office, who blamed “late early” ballots, the kind where an early ballot is dropped off on Election Day, as a cause of the slowdown.

According to the report, results for some races in 2004, 2008 and 2012 took weeks to be verified.

The new senator will replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, a two-term Republican who made headlines verbally tackling President Donald Trump. Flake announced his retirement in October 2017, setting off a three-candidate Republican primary to replace him.

The race had been viewed as one of the best chances for Democrats to shift the balance in Senate. But after Tuesday’s election results from other states appeared to give Republicans a Senate gain of three seats, Arizona is the last state where Democrats still have a chance to pick up a seat.

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(7) comments

Dawn King

Gaining the House is the prize. The Senate would have been great but the map was in the gop’s favor. 2020 is when the dems defend around 11 seats and the repubs defend around 22 seats....that will be the when the senate flips. But for many of us, and a number of republicans as well, this election was not about policy. It was about the ethical and moral lapses of trump republicans, their abuses of power and corrupt intent, and their unwillingness provide effective oversight of the trump administration. Voting them out is the only language trump republicans will understand.

HwyRovr

As the Republican Party files multiple lawsuits across the state to shut down vote counting a few things have come to the forefront. What is that horrible stench covering our state? It’s the stink of flop sweat emanating from the primordial swamp known as the Republican Camp as they realize they are losing. What are all of those piles that can barely be seen in the darkness of the gloom cast upon our election? Those are actual ballots cast by Arizonans the Republicans are terrified to have counted because they know they are losing. What is that bright white light moving across the state? That’s the sun exposing the nasty voter suppression efforts of the Republicans. Always sad - but never unexpected - to see Republicans cheat and lie at every turn.

snd

The a Democrats have done all the lying and disgraced the country with their pyshcobabble and their threats to kick them when their down, follow them and harass them attitude. Sounds like they are promoting violence to me. The Democrats and the media (CNN & MSNBC) are the ones dividing this country. Very sad

HwyRovr

"The a Democrats have done all the lying...". Just consider one classic example - beyond the over 6,000 lies told by the lying draft dodger who is currently squatting in our White House (a place he calls, "a dump") - McSally, whose "qualification" for being a senator is she can fly an airplane, voted numerous times to do away the ACA and the pre-existing conditions protections it contains while shouting, " let's get this f'ing thing" done," lied and said she has "always" protected pre-existing conditions. It's a simple concept - Republicans lie - all of the time - about everything.

dougleonard6

Sinema, 46, has represented Arizona's 9th congressional district since 2013. A Tucson native, she attended Brigham Young University, then Arizona State University. She also served in the state legislature in Arizona. Sinema was the first openly bisexual member of Congress. (and very confused about herself)

dougleonard6

And it was Demo's that files lawsuit after lawsuit on the president outcome in Florida eh?

HwyRovr

Please rewrite this mess in something that might present a modicum of sense. Thank you.

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