The election may have ended almost two weeks ago, but in Arizona, it goes on. Perhaps it’s fitting for a state with its own time zone, but as of last night, there remained over 100,000 uncounted votes in the state’s two largest counties, leaving election officials unable to officially certify the results of a number of the state’s high profile races, including the Senate race, several House contests, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reelection bid. Friday was the deadline for counties to finish counting ballots, but the state blew past it yesterday when Maricopa, which contains Phoenix, and Pima County, which contains Tucson, said they needed more time. In most cases, the margins are the large enough by this point that candidates have declared victory or conceded defeat, even if the results aren’t official. And late Friday night, the Arizona Republic newspaper declared Democrat Ron Barber the winner in the highest profile race outstanding, the one to replace Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords. That contest had been too close to call for over 10 days, with fewer than 1,000 votes separating Barber from Republican Martha McSally, but the remaining outstanding ballots come from heavily Democratic areas so the paper was able to project Barber’s victory.
In the state’s Senate race, Republican Rep. Jeff Flake has a large enough lead over Democratic former Surgeon General Richard Carmona that even Democrats concede a win is probably out of reach, though not entirely impossible. The same goes for Arpaio’s race against Democrat Paul Penzone.
The pace of ballot counting has drawn the ire of young Latino activists, who spent the summer and early fall registering voters in a grassroots campaign to oust Arpaio. Hundreds have been picketing almost around the clock outside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, which counts ballots, in downtown Phoenix. “Even the State of Florida, widely considered to be the poster child of dysfunctional election administration, completed its vote count several days ago,” Brendan Walsh, the chairman of the union-backed Adios Arpaio political action committee wrote in a letter to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement last week on the issues, writing, “I expect state and local officials in Arizona to ensure that every vote is counted promptly, accurately and equally.”