With nearly 300K votes left, Maricopa County might report twice daily
PHOENIX — With the nation waiting breathlessly for election results from Arizona, the state’s largest county had close to 300,000 outstanding ballots on Thursday, according to Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that the county can tabulate about 100,000 ballots a day, but that could fluctuate because certain parts of the process have the potential to create backups.
There’s plenty of interest in Maricopa County’s numbers because they could make a difference in who wins the presidency.
The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona and its 11 electoral votes for challenger Joe Biden, putting the former vice president on the brink of clinching, but other outlets have deemed the race too close to call.
Entering Thursday, Biden led President Donald Trump by about 68,000 votes, a difference of 2.35 percentage points.
Despite the suspense, Fontes says the county is processing ballots faster than in previous years because of an improved system, but it’s still time consuming.
He also said said he’s on board with message of demonstrators who have been gathering outside the elections office.
“I say keep it coming,” he said. “Count the votes. I couldn’t agree more. … We want all the valid votes counted.”
Fontes, a Democrat, gave assurances that representatives of both parties are involved for every step of the process.
“The folks that are working doing this, you’ve got a Republican sitting next to a Democrat at every single aspect of this, from when they pull it out of the envelope to when they do the adjudication,” he said.
He said his office will continue posting updates at 7 p.m. daily and is looking into adding a 9 a.m. report.
Maricopa County provided two batches on Wednesday night, one at 7 p.m. as expected and another around midnight from the late shift.
Fontes said the late shift results will likely be reported at 9 a.m. the next day as counting continues.
He said the county had 275,000 ballots remaining for regular processing and reporting that don’t require special attention.
Another 18,000 provisional ballots were left, too.
“These are folks who may have showed up and voted on Election Day without an ID,” Fontes said. “They may be envelopes that we got that have mismatched signatures. They’re maybe be some other special circumstance that requires some special processing before we open the envelope and get the ballot into the hopper.”