President Donald Trump and Republicans in Arizona and nationally are stoking claims of deliberate election fraud in the state’s U.S. Senate race as Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema await results of a vote that could swing in either’s favor. The tight race has left Republicans in jeopardy of losing a Senate seat in the state for the first time in 30 years. Though McSally held a lead in early-vote totals, the tally flipped in Sinema’s favor Thursday night. Updated results Friday evening kept Sinema with a 20,000-plus advantage, but an estimated 360,000 ballots remain to be counted. No group has brought forward allegations of specific criminal activity, although one Republican lawsuit addressed an equity issue over how early-ballot signatures are verified. … Amy Chan, former state elections director under Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett, tweeted, “Unfounded allegations of voter fraud are totally irresponsible and should rightly be condemned because they shake voter confidence & can affect future participation. Voter fraud in my experience is almost nonexistent.”
McSally, Sinema and their allies poured tens of millions of dollars into advertising to help lock down the seat. Although Republicans maintained control of the Senate in this week’s midterm elections, any seat picked up by a Democrat would eat into their narrow margin.
Challenging the signature process
Local Republicans brought a legal case against Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and other county recorders over the inconsistent way counties verify signatures on mail-in ballots that are dropped off at the polls on Election Day.
When counties receive mail-in ballots, election workers attempt to check signatures against voters’ signatures on record. If workers cannot verify a signature, the county attempts to contact the voter to allow them to confirm their ballot.
All of Arizona’s 15 counties take part in this process before Election Day, but only a handful, including Maricopa County, allow voters to continue “curing” their ballots after Election Day.