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Maricopa County still has 345K ballots to count as voters await Senate result

Workers at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office go through ballots Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Recorder’s office was making its way through 345,000 or so ballots that still needed to be counted as Arizona voters anxiously await the results of the U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

But Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said, despite the progress election officials have made since the Tuesday election, it could still be several days before the election is called.

Fontes said due to outdated equipment, elections officials can only count between 65,000 and 75,000 of those ballots per day. County officials are hoping to get all of the ballots counted and processed within eight or nine days.

“We will give an update every day at 5 p.m. until we are done with the election, Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday.

And while Arizonans take time to honor veterans on Monday, Fontes said he and his office will be hard at work counting all of the ballots and working to bring this race closer to the finish line.

“We’re going to work as hard as we can to get that done,” he said.

The tight-knit race between Sinema and McSally took a turn on Thursday, after a surge of votes from Maricopa and Pima counties brought the Democratic candidate from a 17,000 vote deficit to a lead of a more than 9,000 votes.

A batch of Maricopa County votes pushed Sinema ahead by around 2,000 votes, and the lead swelled by another 7,000 after Pima County reported.

The early ballots are the focus of a lawsuit filed on Thursday by four county Republican parties.

The suit filed by Maricopa, Apache, Navajo and Yuma Republican Party counties alleged that the state’s 15 county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to adjust problems with their mail-in ballots, and that two counties improperly allow those fixes after Election Day.

A hearing in the lawsuit was expected to be held at 2 p.m. on Friday.

“Yesterday and this morning confirmed our expectation that as the ballots are counted, Kyrsten will steadily build her advantage,” Sinema’s campaign said in a statement on Friday.

McSally’s campaign also said it is confident that she will be elected as Arizona’s next senator.

Maricopa, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal and Yuma counties still had outstanding votes as of early Thursday evening, according to the Arizona Secretary of State website.

The next batch of votes from Maricopa County was expected to come around 5 p.m. on Friday.

According to Tim Steller with the Arizona Daily Star, Pima County expects to finish counting early ballots by Tuesday.

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