Arizona election updates: All votes counted in Maricopa County
It's official. A late-evening ballot update from Maricopa County clinched President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Arizona on Thursday. Biden picked up the state's 11 electoral votes, flipping the state Democratic in a presidential race for the first time since 1996.
It's Friday the 13th. And the post-election news rolls on.
- Vote challenge is not about fraud or election theft, Trump attorney tells Arizona judge
- Maricopa County GOP chair resigns after skipping election equipment verification test
- Cindy McCain reacts to Joe Biden's historic win
- Read Thursday's updates here.
Follow along for news throughout the day from Arizona Republic reporters.
SEE WHO WON: Arizona election results
The vote count is done in Maricopa County, with the Elections Department announcing in a news release late Friday afternoon that it had finished tabulating.
The county had processed more than 2 million ballots, and only hundreds remained when workers started their day Friday.
None of the races was substantially affected by the ballot update. President-elect Joe Biden won Maricopa County by 45,119 votes. According to the latest state tally, Biden was leading President Donald Trump by 11,022 votes.
One of the closest races on the Maricopa County ballot, for the District 1 seat on the county Board of Supervisors, was won by Jack Sellers over Jevin Hodge by 403 votes.
Final results show 2,089,563 voters cast a ballot in Maricopa County, which represents about 80.5% of eligible voters, according to a news release from the Elections Department.
More than 200,000 voters chose to vote early in person at the county's vote centers, and more than 165,000 voted in person on Election Day.
Nearly 1.92 million Maricopa County voters cast an early ballot, the Elections Department said, with almost 715,000 Maricopa County voters dropping off an early ballot in person.
The election will be officially canvassed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Nov. 19. The canvass certifies that all ballots cast are accounted for and ensures that every valid vote cast is included in the final election results, the Elections Department said.
An attempt by Republican officials to have more Maricopa County ballots reinspected by hand, possibly changing final vote tallies, has failed.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley on Friday dismissed claims filed on behalf of Donald Trump's campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Arizona Republican Party as moot, meaning further legal proceedings would be pointless.
The scope of the lawsuit had narrowed dramatically since officials fielded it Saturday, alleging “potentially thousands" of Arizona voters had been disenfranchised on Election Day.
They claimed Maricopa County poll workers had systematically overridden ballots with possible "overvotes" — which happen when voters mark more options than allowed in a particular race — instead of allowing voters to make that choice themselves.
The plaintiffs had asked election officials to go back and identify all ballots with overvotes cast in partisan races in Maricopa County on Election Day, to manually inspect those ballots and to discard votes only in cases when “it is impossible to positively determine the voter’s choice.”
But after a six-hour hearing Thursday didn't support widespread allegations of misconduct, Trump attorney Kory Langhofer narrowed that ask significantly. At that point, he said, plaintiffs sought only a reinspection of overvoted ballots in cases where the number of overvotes was greater than the margin of the winning candidate's victory.
By Friday morning, Langhofer had filed a motion acknowledging the outcome of the lawsuit would have no impact on Arizona’s presidential results. He noted a favorable ruling would, at most, be relevant in two down-ballot races.
Attorneys representing election officials also filed a notice Friday morning saying Maricopa County planned to finish counting ballots by 3 p.m., requesting "the Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims as moot."
During a brief afternoon hearing, the parties agreed the 432 ballots Maricopa County had left to record and upload were unlikely to change the outcomes of any results.
"The plaintiffs' claims are dismissed as moot," Kiley said.
— Maria Polletta
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled in a Republican Party lawsuit alleging Maricopa County elections officials did not follow state law when they audited vote counts.
The virtual hearing will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah presiding.
Under state law, county election officials must perform hand count audits using a random sampling of ballots to ensure electronic counts were accurate. The Maricopa County Elections Department on Monday said it had already audited a sampling of ballots from vote centers, confirming 100% accuracy.
But the Arizona Republican Party believes there is a way to get “a more precise sampling of votes." It filed suit Thursday in an attempt to force an additional hand count of ballots by precinct versus by vote center.
The party is pointing to terminology used in a state statute that indicates officials should audit ballots from two county precincts or 2% of county precincts, whichever is greater.
But the Attorney General's Office, led by Republican Mark Brnovich, has indicated there is no legal basis to support a new hand count.
The law "is silent on how the hand count audit should be conducted when voting centers are used," he wrote in a Thursday letter to Republican legislative leadership.
"Instead, the statute directs the Secretary of State to fill in that gap and establish additional hand count procedures with the approval of the Governor and Attorney General, which was done in 2019,” he wrote.
For vote center audits, the secretary of state's election manual indicates officials “must conduct a hand count of regular ballots from at least 2% of the vote centers, or 2 vote centers, whichever is greater.”
— Maria Polletta
Election officials in Pima County finished counting all of its remaining ballots on Friday, more than a week after the Nov. 3 election. Friday’s counts decided a few tight races at the county level that had been too close to call so far.
The Pima County Elections Department tabulated the remaining 3,727 ballots on Friday morning, according to Mark Evans, the spokesperson for the county. Five were early ballots, the rest were provisional ballots cast on Election Day.
Pima County Democrats fared well in county races, they flipped a seat at the board of supervisors and, perhaps the biggest upset this year, unseated the incumbent Republican sheriff.
In a rematch of the 2016 matchup, Democratic challenger Chris Nanos defeated moderate Republican Mark Napier by 3,432 votes. Nanos had served as Pima County’s interim sheriff for a year, before losing the 2016 election to Napier. Although Nanos claimed victory last week, Napier had refused to concede citing the outstanding number of ballots remaining to be counted.
At the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Democrat Scott Rex defeated Republican Steve Spain for the District 1 seat by just 730 votes, the narrowest of margins countywide. The district spans Tucson’s affluent northern suburbs, which tend to vote Republican, even as the rest of Pima County is more reliable Democratic. Rex will replace Supervisor Ally Miller, who is retiring.
With his victory, Democrats now hold a 4-1 supermajority on the board after two newcomers won their races by comfortable margins. Former congressional candidate Matt Heinz beat out Democratic incumbent Ramon Valadez in the primaries and cruised to victory for the District 2 seat. Meanwhile, Tucson Unified School District board member Adelita Grijalva, the daughter of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, won the District 5 seat vacated by the untimely death of longtime Supervisor Richard Elias.
Pima County voters also elected Democrat Gabriella Cazares-Kelly by wide margins on Nov. 3 to be the next county recorder. Cazares-Kelly, who is O’odham, will make history by becoming the first indigenous woman to hold elected office in the county.
Republicans did have some success at the county level. Incumbent Beth Ford retained her seat as the county treasurer after she narrowly defeated her Democratic challenger by 5,870 votes. Superintendent Steve Christy retained his seat by a comfortable 10-point margin for District 4, which covers Tucson’s Republican-leaning eastern suburbs.
— Rafael Carranza
A hearing has been scheduled to discuss a Friday morning filing acknowledging a pending lawsuit over Maricopa County ballots would have no impact on Arizona’s presidential results.
The virtual hearing will begin Friday at 3:30 p.m., with Judge Daniel Kiley presiding.
The motion is the latest development in a lawsuit filed Saturday by Donald Trump's campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and the Arizona Republican Party. The complaint alleges Maricopa County poll workers routinely disregarded procedures designed to give voters a chance to correct possible overvotes — which happen when voters mark more options than allowed in a particular race — on Election Day.
The plaintiffs had first asked election officials to go back and identify ballots with overvotes cast in partisan races in Maricopa County on Election Day, manually inspect those ballots and discard votes only in cases when “it is impossible to positively determine the voter’s choice.”
But after six-hour hearing Thursday didn't support widespread claims of misconduct, Trump attorney Kory Langhofer narrowed that request to reinspection of overvoted ballots when the number of overvotes was greater than the margin of the winning candidate's victory.
Hours later, Langhofer filed a motion acknowledging a favorable ruling from the judge would, at most, be relevant in two down-ballot races.
"Since the close of yesterday's hearing, the tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors,” he wrote. "Two down-ballot races (Board of Supervisors District 1 and State Senate District 28) remain at issue as of the time of this filing.”
Attorneys representing election officials also filed a notice Friday morning stating that Maricopa County planned to finish counting by 3 p.m. Friday.
"The Secretary and County Defendants respectfully request that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims as moot,” they wrote.
The public can listen to the hearing by calling 866-952-8437 with access code 338-153-763.
— Maria Polletta
Republican Sen. Martha McSally, whose race against Democrat Mark Kelly was decided days ago, has conceded, more than a week after the race was called by news organizations and days after it became clear that it was mathematically impossible for her to catch up.
Her concession marked the end of a fierce, year-and-a-half-long race to fill the remainder of the term won by the late Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018.
McSally, R-Ariz., called Kelly on Friday to congratulate him on a hard-fought race, she said in a written statement released by her campaign.
"With nearly all the votes counted, I called Mark Kelly this morning to congratulate him on winning this race," her statement said. "I also offered support in his transition to ensure Arizonans are best served during this time. I wish him all the best."
McSally said in her statement that representing Arizona since January 2019, after she was appointed to the seat following McCain's death, "has been an absolute honor."
— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
10:50 a.m.: Trump attorney: Lawsuit will have no impact on presidential results
An attorney for the president’s reelection team on Friday acknowledged a pending lawsuit over Maricopa County ballots would have no impact on Arizona’s presidential results.
A favorable ruling from the judge would, at most, be relevant in two down-ballot races at this point, attorney Kory Langhofer said.
"Since the close of yesterday's hearing, the tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors,” he wrote in a motion filed early Friday. "Two down-ballot races (Board of Supervisors District 1 and State Senate District 28) remain at issue as of the time of this filing."
The motion came within hours of a daylong hearing during which claims that “potentially thousands" of Arizona voters had been disenfranchised fizzled. Donald Trump's campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and the Arizona Republican Party, had filed suit on Saturday alleging Maricopa County poll workers routinely disregarded procedures designed to give voters a chance to correct ballot mistakes on Election Day.
The plaintiffs originally had asked election officials to go back and identify ballots with overvotes cast in partisan races in Maricopa County on Election Day, manually inspect those ballots and discard votes only in cases when “it is impossible to positively determine the voter’s choice.” Overvotes happen when voters mark more options than allowed in a particular race.
But by the end of the hearing, Langhofer had narrowed that significantly, saying plaintiffs sought only another inspection of overvoted ballots in cases where the number of overvotes was greater than the margin of the winning candidate's victory.
At that point, it was already clear the request wouldn’t affect many, if any, Arizona races. County officials had identified 191 overvotes in the presidential race, where thousands of votes separated the candidates. There were only about 950 Maricopa County ballots cast in person on Election Day with overvotes affecting partisan races in general.
— Maria Polletta
10 a.m.: AZ GOP sues to change vote audit procedures; AG says no legal basis for suit
The Arizona Republican Party on Thursday night sued Maricopa County election officials in an effort to force a hand count of votes separated by polling precinct versus by voting center, arguing the change would "potentially result in a more precise sampling of votes."
But the Attorney General's Office, led by Republican Mark Brnovich, says the party has no legal basis for its claim.
County election officials must perform hand count audits using a random sampling of ballots to ensure the accuracy of electronic counts. State law indicates the scope of the ballot sample should be two county precincts or 2% of county precincts, whichever is greater.
That assumes a precinct-based model, where voters are assigned specific polling places they must use to cast their votes. For this year’s general election, Maricopa County instead used centers open to any voter in the county.
For vote center models, the secretary of state's election manual indicates officials should consider each center to be a precinct for hand-count purposes. "The officer in charge of elections must conduct a hand count of regular ballots from at least 2% of the vote centers, or two vote centers, whichever is greater," it says.
But the Republican Party argues state law explicitly referred to "precincts" for a reason, and contends there is a "fundamental difference" between sampling 175 vote centers and 748 precincts.
The attorney general addressed the claims in a letter to Republican legislative leadership on Thursday, saying his office had "received a number of inquiries regarding the scope and nature of the manual hand count audit required under" state law.
He disputed the idea that officials should only conduct hand-count audits using polling precincts because state statute explicitly references them.
The law "is silent on how the hand count audit should be conducted when voting centers are used," he wrote. "Instead, the statute directs the Secretary of State to fill in that gap and establish additional hand count procedures with the approval of the Governor and Attorney General, which was done in 2019."
Brnovich noted that, "in those counties that use voting centers, the practical effect of a hand count audit based only on precincts could result in no ballots being counted because no ballots would have been cast using tabulating machines at precincts."
He suggested changing the 2% sample size to 5%, rather than insisting on using precincts, if officials want a more precise audit.
— Maria Polletta
Fresh off of helping flip Arizona blue, Felecia Rotellini, who has served two terms as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, will not seek another term in January, party officials told The Arizona Republic on Friday.
Her next steps are unclear, though she is widely seen as a potential candidate for Congress or statewide office in 2022.
Under Rotellini, the party has bolstered fundraising, raised its profile with out-of-state Democratic figures and donors, registered thousands of new voters, flipped two U.S. Senate seats blue, and helped secure Arizona's 11 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
Herschel Fink, executive director of the party, said in a written statement that there were a lot of calls for her to seek another term. She declined.
"... Felecia Rotellini is closing this chapter with the Arizona Democratic Party after delivering truly historic wins," Fink said. "The Party will elect a new Chair at our State Committee Meeting in January. We could not be more grateful for her hard work and energy."
Rotellini said in a statement she was proud of the coalition and volunteers the Democratic Party has stitched together to deliver the wins.
"It has been my honor to lead the Party who I consider my family, experiencing the highs and lows of any endeavor worth fighting for — and what we have achieved together is truly remarkable," she said. "While I am choosing not to run for re-election again, I plan to stay connected and active in service to this state and country."
— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
Cindy McCain, speaking after the presidential race in Arizona was decided, encouraged Arizonans to “accept the results and get on with the healing we need.”
She also said she had congratulated U.S. Sen.-elect Mark Kelly, who on Nov. 3 won the race for the seat held by her husband, Republican John McCain, until his death in August 2018.
John McCain was elected to six terms in the Senate from Arizona.
Cindy McCain said Kelly, a Democrat, “will be a good senator.”
She said she had texted U.S. Sen. Martha McSally about the outcome because she couldn’t get her on the phone.
“I texted a little note to her,” McCain said.
McSally trailed Kelly by more than 79,000 votes with fewer than 11,000 votes left to count.
As of Thursday, McSally had not conceded to Kelly publicly.
Arizona’s special election for the U.S. Senate was to fill the remainder of the term initially won in 2016 by McCain. The seat will be up for grabs again in 2022.
— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez