By Zachary Stieber
President Donald Trump is within 1 percent of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Arizona, according to the latest unofficial results.
An automatic recount will take place if the final margin is one-tenth of 1 percent, according to state law.
Trump has received 1.63 million votes to Biden’s 1.64 million, as of late Monday. That’s a margin of 0.45 percent.
Biden’s lead has slowly decreased as new bundles of ballots are added to the count.
Fox News called the race in Biden’s favor on election night, followed by The Associated Press, even though hundreds of thousands of votes remained outstanding.
Trump’s campaign predicted the president would ultimately win the state, as he did in 2016.
“We’re right on track. This will be very, very close, but we remain confident @realDonaldTrump will end up on top in Arizona,” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said on social media last week.
Arizona delivers the winner 11 electoral votes.
Biden has declared victory in this year’s election but Trump and his campaign are fighting legal battles in a number of battleground states and believe he will eventually prevail.
Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit last week alleging Maricopa County poll workers incorrectly rejected votes by not giving voters whose ballots were rejected by machines the opportunity to fix them.
Maricopa County reported more results on Monday night. The batch cut Biden’s lead to 14,476.
State officials estimate that about 61,500 ballots remain left to count.
About 31,000 of those are in Maricopa County, which contains about two-thirds of the state’s population.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier Monday that about 75,000 to 80,000 votes still needed counting.
“Our expectation is that we finish counting. We’ve been through this drill before in Arizona. Making it easy to vote and hard to cheat has also resulted in time consuming efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections,” he said in a statement.
“We’ve already seen the outcome of races change to a dramatic degree, and some results remain unclear. The president, just like any other candidate, has the right to all available legal challenges and remedies, and we are confident they will be properly adjudicated. We will respect the election results.”
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, on Monday that she wants an independent expert to evaluate all data related to the tabulation of votes.
“Assuming the allegations of fraud are without merit, an independent analysis would help to restore credibility and hopefully end the current controversy over fairness in the election process in Arizona,” Fann wrote.
Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for Hobbs, told The Epoch Times via email: “We received the letter and will send a formal response. President Fann can rest assured that the integrity of this election is protected and we can and will provide available public records.”
Fann also said she supports a recommendation by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich that Maricopa County officials expand the sample size when they carry out the manual audit required by the law.
“Because of widespread concern raised about the ballot marking procedure in Maricopa County election day voting centers, we suggest Maricopa County consider expanding the hand count audit to 5 percent of the voting center locations,” Joseph Kanefield with Brnovich’s office wrote to Clint Hickman, chair of the county’s Board of Supervisors.
“Although at this point in time we have no reason to believe the tabulation equipment did not work properly, an expanded hand count may help alleviate concern and provide public confidence in the integrity of the vote tabulation process,” he added.
Brnovich said last week he was confident that the use of Sharpie markers in Maricopa County did not result in disenfranchisement for Arizona voters.
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