Deal reached on overseas ballots in race to replace Trent Franks
PHOENIX — It could take more than a week to determine the winners in the crowded race to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.
A lawsuit settled Thursday between the U.S. Justice Department and Arizona election officials says ballots from overseas military voters in the Feb. 27 special primary election will be counted if they are received up to 10 days late.
A dozen Republicans are running in the primary to replace Franks, who held the seat for more than a decade and stepped down in December.
The lawsuit stems from the compressed time frame required under state law for the special election. Gov. Doug Ducey set the Feb. 27 date for the special primary election, followed by an April 24 general election.
Further complicating the issue were tight deadlines for filing of candidate petitions and challenges to those petitions. Democratic ballots had to be re-sent to overseas voters after one of three candidates was tossed off the primary after a court challenge.
All primary ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 27 and received by March. 9.
Franks initially said in early December he would resign in January, then immediately quit after admitting he has discussed surrogacy with two female staffers. A former aide told The Associated Press that he pressed her to carry his child and offered her $5 million to be a surrogate.
The open seat in the heavily Republican 8th Congressional District in the western Phoenix suburbs has attracted a wide field of contenders, including four former state lawmakers and a talk show host who got nearly 30 percent of the vote in a 2016 primary challenge against Franks.
There is also a rare primary for Democrats hoping they can pull off an upset because of a surge of dissatisfaction for President Donald Trump.