Nov 8, 2022 - Politics

Arizona election results won't be final for days

Illustration of a stopwatch with ballot elements and shapes behind it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

If you're following election results as they come in Tuesday night, what you see may not be what you get once the votes are all counted.

Why it matters: Leads in major races could change as election night wears on, or even in the days to come.

  • Some political figures in previous years have inaccurately portrayed lead changes after Election Day as suspicious.

State of play: Different types of ballots are counted at different times, and some are likely to heavily favor one party or the other.

  • The first results, which will come around 8pm Tuesday, will be the mail-in and other early ballots that election officials received through the weekend and had already verified.
  • Next, election officials will focus on counting ballots that cast in person at polling places on Election Day.
  • Early ballots that voters drop off in person on Election Day will get counted later in the week because it takes time to verify the ballots' signatures.

Between the lines: The early ballots that come in before the election are expected to heavily favor Democrats.

  • Election analysts Sam Almy, a Democrat, and George Khalaf, a Republican, both told Axios that the early ballot returns they tracked, based on county data, show that Democrats mailed in ballots at significantly higher rates than Republicans.

Yes, but: Republicans traditionally dominate in-person Election Day voting.

  • Almy and Khalaf told Axios that the data they've been monitoring also shows that many likely Republican voters held on to their early ballots instead of mailing them in, indicating they waited to drop them off in person Tuesday.

Context: This ballot dynamic is a recent shift. Through 2018, Democrats almost always gained votes after Election Day because their voters were more likely to drop off their early ballots at polling places.

  • But in 2020, when former President Trump and others falsely convinced people that voting by mail was insecure, many Republicans who traditionally mailed in their ballots instead held onto them until Election Day.
  • That led numerous Arizona Republican candidates who trailed on election night to take the lead and ultimately win their races as the count wore on.

The bottom line: Almy and Khalaf both said any statewide Democratic candidate who leads by less than 10-12 percentage points after the first batch of results comes out at 8pm will likely lose.


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