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Arizona’s top election official cautions against rush to call races

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – It may be a little early to pop the cork in some of the close races in Arizona, the state’s chief election official said, citing her own come-from-behind win two years ago.

“I was 44,000 votes down and now I’m secretary of state. That took 10 days,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

The Associated Press projected Democrat Joe Biden as the winner against President Donald Trump in Arizona, and political newcomer Mark Kelly as the winner against Republican incumbent Martha McSally in a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race.

The news service called the presidential race early Wednesday, after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded there were not enough outstanding to allow Trump to catch up.

Kelly led McSally, 52.6% to 47.4%.

“I don’t have the job of calling races … but there are still hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count in Arizona, primarily in Maricopa County, so I think that I would advise caution in terms of celebrating victories right now,” Hobbs said.

She added there were around 250,000 outstanding ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s most populated region.

“Those are early ballots that were dropped off [Tuesday] or received Monday,” Hobbs said. They will start counting those Wednesday.

Counties also have provisional ballots and conditional provisional ballots, she explained.

It’s up to each county to verify the eligibility of provisional ballots, but with conditional provisional ballots, a voter has five days to provide identification “or whatever was needed to prove their eligibility,” Hobbs said.

Counties also have five days to cure mismatched signatures on the early ballots. “There might be some outstanding in that category and we don’t know how many that is yet,” she said. That may not be completed until next Tuesday.

Finally, counties have 20 days immediately after the election to finalize results.

“Nothing is official until our office signs off on the canvass at the end of November,” Hobbs said.

“What I’m focused on is making sure that we get it right. And that does take time.”

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