By Zachary Stieber
Arizona’s most populous county still has more than 400,000 ballots left to count, officials said the day after the midterm elections.
“We don’t know the exact numbers, but over about 400,000 votes yet to be counted and reported,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, a Republican, told reporters during a press briefing.
That includes about 86,000 early ballots that were processed late last week and need to be tabulated. It also includes another approximately 50,000 early ballots dropped off on Monday and about 17,000 ballots from in-person voting that were dropped into secure slots at the tabulators.
Voters were instructed to drop them into the slots after machines stopped working at approximately 20 percent of precincts. About 7 percent of the in-person ballots were slotted.
The processing for absentee ballots include capturing the image of the signature and matching it to the signature on file before removing the ballots and tabulating them.
Officials say 1.1 million ballots have already been processed and counted.
As of early Wednesday, the county has reported 1.07 million ballots for the statewide races, one for the U.S. Senate race and one for secretary of state.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) had received about 53 percent of the votes to Republican Blake Masters’ 45 percent, according to the results that have been reported. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, had 52 percent of the votes versus 48 percent for her challenger, Kari Lake.
Officials could not say when they would be done with the count but hope to have 95 percent to 99 percent of the work done by Friday. They also defended the delay in reporting results.
“Early ballot processing went very well. We had very few issues,” County Recorder Stephen Richer, another Republican, told reporters on Nov. 9. He said that he was “proud of the work that we’ve done” on the voter registration database in particular.
Gates said officials were going to do a “deep dive” into the widespread problems with tabulators.
“That relates, I think, to the word incompetence,” he said, adding that “there is no perfect election yesterday was not a perfect election.”
“This board is going to stand behind what happened yesterday, figure out what happened, get to the bottom of it make those changes that need to be made,” he said.
Lake said when the tabulator problems were announced that “when we win, there’s going to be a ‘come to Jesus’ for elections in Arizona.’” She noted Wednesday that many of the remaining ballots were breaking for her, “just like we knew they would.”
Hobbs told supporters late Tuesday that “we are feeling good about what we are seeing.”
Hobbs said it would take several days for the counting to be completed.
“We need to be patient and wait for every vote to be counted, because every single vote matters,” she said.