Settlement reached in tight Arizona Senate vote count
PHOENIX — Arizona Republicans who had alleged the state’s two biggest counties were illegally counting some ballots changed course Friday and agreed to settle their lawsuit if rural voters also get an extra chance to fix problems with ballots cast in the state’s tight U.S. Senate race.
The settlement was technically between Republicans and the state’s county recorders, but Democrats and civil rights groups who had jumped into the fray agreed to it as it was announced in a Phoenix courtroom Friday afternoon. Arizona’s 15 counties now have until Nov. 14 to address the issue, which state Elections Director Eric Spencer said likely affects less than 10,000 votes out of more than 2.3 million cast statewide.
The Republican lawsuit said the state’s county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to address problems with the signatures on their mail-in ballots, and that Maricopa and Pima counties improperly allow the fixes for up to five days after Election Day.
The lawsuit settlement in a courtroom packed with more than a dozen lawyers and a host of reporters came a day after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema jumped into a slight lead over Republican Martha McSally in the midst of the slow vote count. On Friday night, she padded her lead to about 1 percentage point of the 2 million ballots tallied. More than 350,000 remain accounted.
Even as the Republican attorneys pursued a deal that would let conservative-leaning counties match signatures like the two urban ones, President Donald Trump seemed to attack the way Maricopa and Pima operated on twitter. “In Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH,” Trump tweeted. “Electoral corruption - Call for a new Election?”
Four local Republican parties filed the lawsuit Wednesday night challenging the two large counties’ practice of reaching out to voters after Election Day. If the signature on the voter registration doesn’t match that on the sealed envelope, both Maricopa and Pima County allow voters to help them fix, or “cure” it, up to five days after Election Day.
U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema speaks to a supporter Tuesday at the Barton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. Sinema and Republican challenger Martha McSally are seeking the Senate seat in Arizona being vacated by Jeff Flake, who is retiring in January.