A Recount Could Take Place in Arizona’s Close Gubernatorial Race, Other Races

With almost all of the ballots tabulated from Arizona’s midterm election, some races may end up so close that they trigger the state’s automatic recount provision. The governor’s race is separated by 17,200 votes, with Democrat Katie Hobbs leading Republican Kari Lake 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. A recount is required where the difference “is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or on such measures or proposals.”

Lake, who will be reportedly filing a lawsuit challenging the results if Hobbs wins, posted a video containing shots of her campaigning on Twitter Wednesday evening featuring the Tom Petty song “I Won’t Back Down.”

After the 2020 presidential election, when authorities stated that Joe Biden received 10,457 votes more than Donald Trump, a margin of 0.3 percent, the Arizona Legislature passed a law heightening the threshold for an automatic recount from a 0.1 percent difference to 0.5 percent. Hobbs’ lead is just barely over that at 0.6 percent.

ABC-15 Data Analyst Garrett Archer tweeted Wednesday evening that Lake would need a 30+ spread (66-34 or better) on the rest of the ballots coming in in order to reach the threshold for a recount. Some of the last batches of ballots coming in are Election Day votes that had problems, either the “door 3” misreads or provisional ballots, so they are going heavily Republican. However, a batch of 3,553 ballots that came in late Wednesday night from Maricopa County was only 60-40 in favor of Republicans.

If a recount is triggered, the process will not be initiated until December 5, when the secretary of state’s office begins its canvass. According to Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett, the canvassing could take until December 30. After recounting the ballots through the tabulators, the political parties can request a hand count, but it’s unclear whether they will get it. The secretary of state’s website states, “Once the results have been tabulated, and if the political parties request it, a hand count audit may occur.”

Multiple news outlets have already called the gubernatorial race for Hobbs. As of Wednesday evening, there were 17,280 ballots left to be tabulated – two percent of the statewide vote.

The attorney general’s race is currently even closer and is expected to trigger a recount. Democrat Kris Mayes led Republican Abe Hamadeh Wednesday evening by 711 votes, which is statistically the same, not even a 0.1 percent difference. According to Ricochet, Hamadeh needs 52 percent of the final ballots to win.

Another very close race is for superintendent of public instruction. Republican Tom Horne led incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman by 8,718 votes, a 0.4 difference that would trigger the recount.

Lake has not conceded. Republican Blake Masters, who challenged Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), conceded on Tuesday. He was behind by 125,128 votes, 46.5 percent to 51.4 percent. News outlets declared Democrat Adrian Fontes the winner over Republican Mark Finchem in the secretary of state race, but Finchem has not conceded. He tweeted on Wednesday, “I have not conceded. We all know why. That is all.”

Finchem retweeted an attorney who accused Hobbs of a misdemeanor. Leo Donofrio tweeted, “A person who violates any rule adopted pursuant to this section is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. Maricopa County officials responsible for 1/2 above take note. We know how the ballots were buried. I’m not your average cat. Cease.”

Donofrio cited A.R.S. 16-542, which requires the secretary of state to update the state’s election procedures manual every other year. Last year, the manual was not updated because Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich refused to approve her changes, since he believed they violated the law, including allowing ballot harvesting, which was banned in Arizona. Since the dispute was never resolved, the state is currently using the 2019 version.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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