ARIZONA ELECTION

Judge to hear Arizona Republicans’ challenge to vote count

Nov 9, 2018, 7:17 AM | Updated: 1:08 pm
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Four Arizona counties’ Republican parties will have their day in court Friday, when a judge will hear their challenge of which early ballots should count at the same time votes were being tallied for a close races in the U.S. Senate and other offices.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m.

The GOP in Maricopa, Apache, Navajo and Yuma counties filed the lawsuit Wednesday night, objecting to the state’s two biggest counties — Maricopa and Pima — for giving voters a chance to verify questionable signatures on early ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.

If the signatures on the voter registration and sealed early ballot envelopes don’t match, those two counties are giving voters up to five days after Tuesday’s election to resolve the issue.

In Maricopa County, the state’s largest county, the lawsuit would impact only about 5,000 of the approximately 345,000 ballots yet to be counted.

“We’re talking about something in the neighborhood of about 4,900 that are left to try to cure, and we’re working on those right now,” Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday.

It’s not clear how many ballots it would impact in other counties.

KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday that the Republicans who filed the lawsuit knew about this issue before the election.

“This is an issue that we have had for a while now. This law has not been clear or consistently followed with the counties,” she said.

The outcome of the lawsuit could have more impact on future elections than this one, Lindstrom said.

“The result that comes from this lawsuit will hopefully clear everything up so in our future elections we don’t have to worry about these issues anymore,” she said.

Other Arizona counties only allowed voters to resolve signature issues until the end of polling at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

And that is why the suit was filed, Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman Chris Herring said.

“You can’t give one American one set of rules for voting and another person another set of rules in the same jurisdiction,” he told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Thursday, before late tabulations moved Democrats ahead in two tight statewide races.

 

The state’s junior Republican Senator, Jon Kyl, issued a statement trying to frame the lawsuit as a question of equal protection rather than limiting urban vote counting.

“Every single lawful vote in Arizona should be counted,” Kyl said. “And voting laws in our state should be applied uniformly across the map.”

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema led Republican Martha McSally by about 9,600 votes early Friday, with 49.10 percent of the votes to 48.59 percent. She had trailed by 17,000 the previous day.

Vote counts submitted Thursday evening from Maricopa and Pima counties put Sinema in the lead. Those results also pushed Democrat Kathy Hoffman ahead of Republican Frank Riggs in the superintendent of public instruction race.

“I think every valid vote should count. I think every eligible United States citizen who is casting a valid ballot that is verified should have that ballot count,” Fontes said at a press conference Thursday.

More than 400,000 Arizona ballots remained uncounted. More than 2.2 million votes were cast in the state.

Arizona has a history of being slow at tallying ballots even though about 75 percent of votes are cast by mail. Each of those ballots must go through a verification process.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rep.-elect Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., celebrates his win at an election night gathering for Democrats Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Stanton defeated Republican Steve Ferrara in Arizona's 9th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York) Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, embraces Cindy McCain, wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, while speaking to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated Democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York) U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., holds his daughter Olivia as he speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) An elections official counts ballots at the Tabulation and Election Center, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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) Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at a relocated polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. The new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A volunteer moves supplies to a relocated polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. The new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A notice sign is seen at a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. A new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Marcicopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes holds an Election Day press conference, Nov. 6, 2018. (KTAR Photo/Ali Vetnar) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, arrives to cast his ballot early Tuesday, Nov 6, 2018 in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Ducey is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger David Garcia. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia serves coffee at a local cafe, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Garcia is challenging Republican incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Voters head into Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to cast their ballots on Nov. 6, 2018. (KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross) Maricopa County elections official Deborah Atkins places a "vote" sign outside a polling station prior to it's opening, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York) Maricopa County elections official Deborah Atkins hangs "vote" signs outside a polling station prior to it's opening, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Judge to hear Arizona Republicans’ challenge to vote count