Recount confirms Kris Mayes’ slim victory in Arizona attorney general race

Dec 29, 2022, 10:19 AM | Updated: 2:59 pm

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Kris Mayes (Getty Images File Photo)

(Getty Images File Photo)

PHOENIX — A statewide recount confirmed Democrat Kris Mayes’ narrow victory over Republican Abe Hamadeh in Arizona’s attorney general race, but not without more drama.

The results of automatic recounts in three Arizona races were revealed by Judge Timothy Thomason during a Thursday morning hearing in Maricopa County Superior court.

Hamadeh cut into his deficit by more than 200 votes in the recount, but Mayes remained ahead with a razor-thin 280-vote margin.

The Democrat led by a mere 511 votes after the Nov. 8 election results were officially tallied and canvassed earlier this month. The recount added 623 votes to the race’s the total, 427 for Hamadeh and 196 for Mayes.

Most of the the additional votes, about 500, came from the Republican stronghold of Pinal County, which attributed the initial undercount to human error.

Hamadeh responded to the recount results by tweeting that the 231-vote change was “shockingly high” and saying his “legal team will be assessing our options to make sure every vote is counted.”

Mayes issued a statement saying she is “excited and ready to get to work as your next attorney general.”

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office issued a press release saying “discrepancies between the original tally and recount results occur and are not unexpected.”

“Recounts provide an opportunity to ensure that all ballots cast are counted accurately and the correct winner won,” State Elections Director Kori Lorick said in the release.

“Election officials will be reviewing the recount process to identify meaningful process improvements as part of our continued commitment to getting it right.”

Mayes will be sworn in next week as the state’s first Democratic attorney general since 2011 and break a streak of three Republicans in the office.

Attorney general is Arizona’s chief legal officer. Mark Brnovich, who is finishing up his second term in the role, lost in the GOP primary in his bid to move into the U.S. Senate.

The two other recounted races confirmed victories for Republican Tom Horne as superintendent of public instruction and Republican Liz Harris as a state representative.

Horne unseated incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman, and Harris edged out fellow Republican Julie Willoughby for the second House seat for District 13. Harris joins Democrat Jennifer Pawlik in representing the district, which includes parts of Chandler, Sun Lakes and Gilbert.

Horne’s final margin of victory was 9,188 votes, 221 larger than before the recount. Harris added five votes to her margin to finish 275 votes ahead of Willoughby.

Automatic recounts are triggered under state law when races are closer than .5 percentage points. The threshold used to be .1 percentage points, but Legislature increased it this year. If the law hadn’t been changed, only the attorney general’s race would have been recounted this year.

The recount process couldn’t begin until after the official results were certified at the statewide canvass on Dec. 5. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, as required by state law, filed documents with the state court system to initiate the process later that day.

Per Thomason’s directions, each of Arizona’s 15 counties used tabulating machines to recount their ballots this month before sending them to Hobbs’ office. The secretary of state’s legal counsel presented the results to the judge before he announced them Thursday morning.

None of the results could be made public until the court released them all at once.

Thomason initially scheduled the results hearing for Dec. 21, but he delayed it because one county was still working on its recount and Hamadeh’s lawsuit challenging his loss, which eventually was dismissed, was still working its way through the legal system.

It’s extremely rare for a recount to reverse a result.

FairVote, a nonprofit that studies election practices, found three races that flipped out of 35 recounts nationwide over the last two decades. The reversals all were in races that were closer than .06 percentage points. Of the three Arizona recounts, only the attorney general’s race was within that margin.

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Recount confirms Kris Mayes’ slim victory in Arizona attorney general race