The suspense and predictions surrounding the Arizona governor’s too-close race continued on Friday as Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs maintained a slim but growing lead over Republican challenger Kari Lake.
The vote count will continue for days and officials from the state’s largest county have revised their own estimate of how long it would take to complete for final results. These are expected next week.
When the results were updated Friday night adding about 74,000 more ballots from Maricopa County, Hobbs widened his advantage, though the race was still very thin with just 31,000 votes separating the candidates and no winner declaring the victoire.
But in the meantime, with national eyes on Arizona where false allegations of voter fraud have lingered since 2020, the candidates echoed familiar sentiments that dominated their time on the campaign trail.
Election coverage: Live Updates | Arizona election results
Lake used the countdown period, which is normal in Arizona, to make national news appearances where she raised suspicions about the count and beat up other Republican officials, whom she accused of deliberately slowing down the results.
Meanwhile, Hobbs, the secretary of state, urged patience and expressed confidence in the system.
“Despite what my election denying opponent tries to make people believe, the pattern and cadence of the incoming votes is exactly what we expected,” Hobbs wrote on social media. “In fact, they reflect what our state has seen in recent elections. We need to remain patient and let our election officials do their job.”
Hobbs’ 2018 race for state election chief was not decided until 10 days after the election, for example.
At dawn on Friday, more than 500,000 ballots still had to be counted statewide, including about 320,000 in Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state that includes Phoenix. County officials were required to update their results each evening.
In Maricopa County, officials began Friday counting more than 290,000 ballots that were cast on Election Day. These votes will ultimately decide the race. They must undergo a process including signature verification which can add to the total count time. County officials planned to release the results of about 60,000 ballots each day.
If 2020 trends continue, those discarded ballots would favor Republicans, but in a purple-tinged battleground state, nothing is certain. Previously, those ballots favored the Democrats, propelling statewide candidates, including Hobbs, to victory.
Lake needs a repeat of 2020 for his claims of victory to prove true.
Lake: County ‘slow’ results
The former TV news anchor, who rose to prominence by embracing former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020, did not allege fraud in Tuesday’s election. She exposed problems with tab machine errors and extrapolated them into a larger theory that the vote count takes too long. She pledged to convene a special session of the Legislative Assembly, if elected, to reform the elections.
Harmeet Dhillon, a prominent California GOP lawyer who worked for Trump and was hired by Lake’s campaign last month, alleged during a Fox News appearance that there was “a little game being played by some Arizona County officials”.
And in an interview with conservative influencer Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, which shifted Arizona’s GOP politics to the right, Lake named Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Chairman of the Board watchdog Bill Gates specifically for “trying to ruin our election here”. .”
“They’re controlling the narrative of election night here in this great country, and holding back and slowing down the results,” Lake said, alleging such actions only made it look like Hobbs, the Democrat, was in the lead. “I think it’s despicable. Get the job done, guys.”
Gates had some cutting words for Lake at a Thursday afternoon press conference, and noted that the county counts ballots on a “first in, first out” basis, which means ballots cast on Tuesday will come last.
“As to the statement that we’re moving slowly, again, I think Kari Lake is maybe saying that because she hasn’t followed elections as much as I have over the last 20 years,” he said. he declared. Gates works as a Republican attorney, including on election issues, and was elected to the Phoenix City Council before the County Board of Supervisors, which, among other duties, handles ballot counting and daytime voting operations. of the ballot.
Speaking at the county’s vote tabulation center, Gates said: “It’s offensive for Kari Lake to say that these people behind me are slow when they work 2 to 6 p.m. So I really hope that is the end now. We can be patient and respect the results when they come out.”
Arizona remains a hotbed of false claims
Granted, there were some high-profile issues with Tuesday’s election in Maricopa County. In about 30% of polling stations, on-site ballot counting machines initially did not work, meaning voters had to leave their paper ballots in a secure box instead.
But Arizona has remained ground zero in some Republicans’ quest to cast doubt on the election, including by Trump himself, despite a prolonged scrutiny of the 2020 ballot that proved Joe Biden’s victory.
That environment also sparked complaints of aggressive behavior at the polls in Phoenix and Mesa as Arizonans voted early, including fears that people were filming voters and taking pictures of their license plates.
Hobbs’ campaign said Lake fostered election misinformation leading to such issues.
“Kari Lake and her campaign have never stopped fueling violence and misinformation in this election,” Hobbs spokeswoman Sarah Robinson said Thursday. “Arizona voters deserve to have their voices heard, and Kari Lake’s campaign of lies won’t stop that.”
Lake and his campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
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