What are chances recount would change Arizona election results?

Nov 18, 2022, 9:36 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

(Maricopa County Elections Department Photo)...

(Maricopa County Elections Department Photo)

(Maricopa County Elections Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona attorney general and superintendent of public instruction races are tight enough to trigger automatic full recounts, but is there any chance the results will change? 

FairVote, a nonprofit that studies election practices, has studied recounts across the country in an effort to see how they affect results. The group found fewer than 40 recounts for statewide races across the nation over two decades. 

“In the 35 recounts that we studied, the outcome changed in three of them,” Deb Otis, FairVote research director, said Thursday. “Every time that it has happened, the initial margin between the top two candidates was within .06 percentage points.” 

Based on that, there is little chance that Republican Tom Horne’s victory over incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction won’t stand up to a state-mandated recount. Horne led by around 9,000 votes, or four-tenths of a percentage point, with an estimated 10,000 ballots left to be counted statewide as of Friday morning. Hoffman conceded on Thursday.

The attorney general’s race is a different matter. As of Friday morning, Democrat Kris Mayes had a razor-thin lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh of 236 votes, just a sliver of 1 percentage point. 

A law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in May increased the margin threshold to trigger an automatic recount from one-tenth of a percentage point to one-half a percentage point. So while a recount would have happened for attorney general under the previous law, the superintendent of public instruction would have been outside the old threshold. 

Automatic recounts — at any margin — are found only in about half the states in the country, said Otis, who called the practice “an important part of election integrity.” 

But while she applauded Arizona for having a recount statute, she criticized the fact that recounts are now more likely in the state. 

“This half a percentage threshold goes beyond what we consider best practices,” she said. 

Otis says the higher threshold could have negative side effects. 

“It could create the sense that voters can’t tell the difference between a recount that really matters and one that doesn’t,” she explained. “In addition, the recounts are state-funded, so this could potentially be costing the state a lot of money.” 

Otis said when a recount happens, a variety of factors are at play and can affect the final numbers, even if it doesn’t change the result. 

“[Things like] disputed ballots that a machine had a hard time reading, but a human gauging voter intent can determine,” she said.

“The most likely outcome, and what voters should expect, is a small change in the vote total for each candidate.” 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A still from surveillance video shows a possible abduction at a Buckeye, Arizona, gas station on Fe...

Buckeye police investigating possible assault, abduction caught on surveillance video

Buckeye police are investigating a possible assault and abduction related to an incident caught on video by a gas station surveillance camera last week.

52 minutes ago

Aerial view of Rinchem's new warehouse in Surprise, Arizona....

Kevin Stone

Chemical supply chain company Rinchem opens custom-built hazmat warehouse in Surprise

Rinchem, a global chemical supply chain management company, expanded its Arizona presence by opening a custom-built hazmat warehouse in the West Valley.

2 hours ago

Gustin Ray Woodman, seen in an undated Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentr...

Kevin Stone

Convicted killer sentenced to death in 2014 Glendale murder case

A defendant convicted of fatally shooting a 72-year-old man in Glendale 10 years ago has been sentenced to death.

3 hours ago

Barb wire underneath a sunny sky...

SuElen Rivera

Arizona man sentenced to 10 years in prison for trying to bring cocaine into the US

An Arizona man was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison for attempting to traffic nearly 50 pounds of cocaine into the United States.

4 hours ago

Interstate 17 traffic building up due to closure....

Northbound Interstate 17 temporarily closed in south Phoenix after fatal crash

Northbound Interstate 17 was temporarily closed in south Phoenix following a fatal crash involving a pedestrian, transportation officials said Thursday morning.

6 hours ago

People with autism encouraged to vote by Arizona election leaders...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona election officials partner with nonprofit to encourage people with autism, disabilities to vote

Advocates and election officials threw a mock election event to encourage people with autism and intellectual disabilities to vote Tuesday.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

What are chances recount would change Arizona election results?