Arizona judge refuses to limit vote count in close race


By Bob Christie and Nicholas Riccardi | Associated Press

PHOENIX — A judge on Thursday rejected Republican demands to immediately limit vote counts in the razor-close U.S. Senate race in Arizona and has set a hearing on the challenge affecting about 5,600 votes in the state’s most populous county.

Judge Margaret R. Mahoney said it was too soon to require Maricopa and other counties to stop contacting voters to verify signatures on mail ballots. She also declined to order the counties to temporarily separate mail ballots that have been verified by that process after Election Day.

County registrars said that would cause chaos and slow the long vote-counting process even more.

Mahoney scheduled a hearing Friday and indicated she would rule then.

The lawsuit came hours before Democrat Kyrsten Sinema jumped into a slight lead over Republican Martha McSally in the midst of the slow vote count. Sinema is ahead by about 9,000 votes out of 1.9 million counted so far. About 400,000 remain to be counted in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

The suit alleges that the state’s county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to address problems with their mail-in ballots, and that Maricopa and Pima counties improperly allow the fixes for up to five days after Election Day. Sinema has gained votes recently from Maricopa, and Pima is a Democratic bastion.

Lawyers who filed the suit say they’d be happy if Mahoney decided to order the state’s more rural counties to follow the same procedures, which would have the effect of expanding the vote count.

Currently, several other counties that lean Republican destroy mail ballots if voters don’t help verify their signatures before polls close on Election Day.

“At the end of the day, each vote should be treated the same way,” attorney Bret Johnson said in an interview.

Recorder …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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