Democrats over the weekend clinched their hold on the U.S. Senate, with Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada projected to defeat their Republican opponents.

As of this writing, Arizona was still counting votes to determine the winner of the governor’s race, as well as two still-uncalled U.S. House seats. Control of the House remains undecided, although trends here and in neighboring California, which has 11 uncalled races, suggest Republicans will wind up with a slim majority. 

Why We Wrote This

A week or more to count votes is not unusual. But this year’s tallying was slowed by voters who, worried about election integrity, chose to drop off mail-in ballots on Election Day.

The delay has led many to ask: What’s taking these Western states so long?

Arizona officials point to Maricopa County’s sheer size, as well as its long-standing propensity for absentee voting.

But this year’s delay was compounded by suspicions surrounding voting machines and ballots sent through the mail. Many Republican voters opted to drop off mail-in ballots on Election Day, which slowed the counting down significantly.

“Never in American history has any state ever counted all ballots on Election Day,” says David Becker, director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research.

“But the amount of time that it takes to count ballots can be exacerbated,” he adds – which can create a “vicious cycle” of election fraud claims. 

Nearly one week after Election Day, the center of U.S. politics is arguably a tabulation location in downtown Phoenix surrounded by police cars, TV crews, and rows and rows of fencing.

After days of incremental ballot tallies, Democrats over the weekend clinched their hold on the U.S. Senate, with news organizations projecting that incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona had won. And in Nevada, they declared that Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto had defeated her Republican opponent.

As of this writing, poll workers here were still counting votes to determine the winner of the close Arizona governor’s race, as well as two still-uncalled U.S. House seats. Control of the House remains undecided, although trends in Arizona and in neighboring California, which has 11 uncalled races, suggest Republicans are on track to wind up with a slim majority. 

Why We Wrote This

A week or more to count votes is not unusual. But this year’s tallying was slowed by voters who, worried about election integrity, chose to drop off mail-in ballots on Election Day.

The delay has led many Republicans and Democrats alike to ask: What’s taking these Western states so long?

Arizona election officials point first and foremost to Maricopa County’s sheer size, as the fourth most populous county in the nation and its second-largest voting jurisdiction. The state’s long-standing propensity for absentee voting, which has been allowed without exceptions here for 30 years, also requires more verification on the back end. Indeed, they note that Maricopa has always been slow, averaging 12.5 days to post its final election results over the past eight elections. The prolonged count is only getting attention now because the races have been so close and the outcomes so critical. 



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