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Close Arizona races won’t be decided until weekend

Don’t expect the election in Arizona to be over tonight.

In Pima County, only 2/3 of the 308,000 mailed out have been turned in and verified by today. That leaves about 100,000 Pima County ballots that potentially could arrive in the mail today or be turned in at a polling place.

Even if only half of those outstanding ballots show up, that’s still roughly 50,000 ballots that won’t be counted until Thursday/Friday/Saturday. (Any ballots that show up in the mail tomorrow get tossed in the trash (metaphorically trash them, that is. I think they shred them, or, at least I hope they shred them).

In Maricopa County, 1.16 million early ballots were sent out and about 776,000 were verified for counting by today. That’s 400,000 outstanding ballots. It’s a similar story in the state’s two other populous counties – Pinal and Yavapai.

Ballots that arrive in the mail on election day or that are turned in at polling places on election day aren’t counted until the county recorders have verified them. Same goes for provisional ballots cast today.

 In the 2010 general election, there were still 374,000 ballots to count the day after the election. It took elections officials in Maricopa and Pima counties, which accounted for the bulk of the uncounted ballots, nearly a week to finish counting and post final results.

That delay meant the result of the Congressional District 8 race between Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Jesse Kelly wasn’t known until Saturday.

Since even more early ballots were sent out this year than 2010, the number of uncounted ballots figures to be at least the same as 2010 and probably higher.  Which means there could be as many as 500,000 ballots still to count after tonight.

For races expected to be close, namely the U.S. Senate and Congressional District 1, we might know who won until next Tuesday.

Ahh, early voting, ain’t it great?

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