The Daily Agenda: It's finally here
But the fun is only just beginning ... Hand count hits a snag ... And we're constant late-night fodder.
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By the time you read this, the polls will be open. It’s almost over! Almost.
But a lot is going to happen really quickly in the coming days and weeks. And we want you to be prepared for the swirling chaos and disinformation that may be heading our way. So, here’s what to expect in the next few hours, days and weeks.
There will probably be more lines, especially in the evening. For decades, we’ve been shifting away from voting in person to voting by mail or dropping off mail ballots. The 2020 election didn’t reverse that trend, but it probably stunted it. We’re seeing indications that more Republicans are planning to vote in person on Election Day, so if you’re planning to vote today, you might have to wait a little longer than usual. (If you got a mail ballot, you can skip the line and drop it off, or you can still vote in-person instead.)
There may be some small SNAFUs. Every election year, there’s some kind of problem, usually minor and usually resolved quickly. But somebody somewhere is going to forget an extension cord or the keys to the polling place. Hopefully that’s the extent of it, but be patient with the poll workers — they’re only human.
If you have a problem voting or dropping off your ballot, call the lawyers. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law operates the Election Protection Hotline, and they can help you with darn near any problem you might encounter. Call 866-OUR-VOTE in English or 888-VE-Y-VOTA in Spanish.
The first batch of results will come in around 8 p.m. Those will be early ballots received early (except those that have been flagged for signature verification or other issues). They’ll almost certainly show Democrats ahead statewide, buoyed by strong Democratic early ballot returns in Maricopa and Pima counties. But that lead will need to be very strong for Democrats to have a fighting chance of holding their leads in the coming hours and days.
The next batch of ballots will be in-person votes cast on Election Day (plus some later-arriving early ballots that have been signature verified). This batch will heavily favor Republicans. Expect to see Democrats' margins shrink throughout the night as polling places pack up and transport their ballots back to their county’s main tabulation center. Counties will be doing updates throughout the night as more voting locations report. The final batch in Maricopa County should come in in the early morning hours Wednesday.
You’ll probably go to bed not knowing who won most of the major races.
It’s at this point that the disinformation will start in earnest. We saw during the primary election that Kari Lake declared victory while still trailing by 9 percentage points. While she was ultimately correct that her opponent’s lead wasn’t large enough to sustain her, don’t believe the candidates when they say they won.1
As the Daily Star’s editorial board chief Curt Prendergast wrote, “This will be a key moment.”
“If Lake, Hamadeh, and Finchem are losing on election night, they likely will claim widespread fraud and create chaos. Mainstream news outlets will try to figure out what’s happening, while right-wing outlets trumpet anything that could possibly be connected to fraud. Every few minutes, another bit of news will pop up. Social media will erupt a thousand different ways. Trump will call for an investigation of votes in Arizona.”
The days and weeks after:
On Wednesday, counties will start checking signatures on ballots that came in after Nov. 5, and tallying the results of those ballots.
Whether those ongoing updates favor Democrats or Republicans will depend more on whether they came from a Republican or Democratic area than anything. Both parties will likely see ups and downs in the coming days and weeks after the election.
Maricopa County estimates 95-99% of the ballots will be tabulated by Friday night. But if races are still super close, we might have to wait for that last 1-5%. And if the candidates land within 0.5% of each other, we’re in recount territory.
It’s a simple fact that as our state and our political races become more competitive, it’s going to take longer to get results. Not because counting votes takes any longer, but because “calling” races is harder.
In 2020, Arizona was the second-to-last state where the press called the presidential race (if you don’t include that whole Fox News thing), as the New York Times notes in a piece about when to expect election results.
That doesn’t mean counting ballots took more time here than in, say, California or Utah. In those states, the race wasn’t even close, so the press correctly projected the winner on election night after a smaller number of ballots were tallied.
The courts decide: A judge has blocked Cochise County’s planned full hand count of ballots, saying the group that sued over the hand count is likely to succeed in its case that argues the supervisors can’t legally conduct such a hand count. Separately, a few speakers called on the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors to fully hand count the county’s ballots, an echo of claims made in Cochise and Pinal counties in recent weeks, the Nogales International’s Angela Gervasi reports. The Santa Cruz County supervisors didn’t bite.
Watching the watchers: The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will send monitors to five of Arizona’s 15 counties to monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws, the department announced yesterday. The monitors will be in Maricopa, Navajo, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties.
Stop with the pen conspiracies already: A meme spreading on right-wing social media calls on voters to use only “blue ballpoint pens” at the polls, yet another campaign to call pens into question, which is basically a hallmark of Arizona elections these days, the Washington Post reports. Maricopa County recommends using the quick-drying felt-tip pens they hand out, but will allow people to use ballpoint pens and has trained workers on how to manage ballots to ensure the ink dries and how to clean pen gunk from machines.
The guts of elections: The Republic’s Sasha Hupka surveyed Arizona’s 15 counties to check on election staffing levels. In some counties, election departments are tiny, with other county departments pitching in to help, though it’s tough to tell how many elections workers is enough to successfully run the process. Hupka also explains how tabulation machines work, how they’re tested and secured and why they’re the subject of controversy now.
From the classroom to the statehouse: The Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss tallies up the number of educators who’ve run for the Arizona Legislature this year, seeing public office as a way to address the long-running concerns of educators like low pay and large class sizes.
Swinging hard right: In one of the last campaign events, the GOP slate of candidates gathered in Queen Creek to say Anthony Fauci should be in prison and praise Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers, embracing far-right policies and rhetoric, the Washington Post reports. Separately, the conservative National Review urges Republicans to reject GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, citing her endless election denialism and endorsements from the “four horsemen of the election apocalypse — Donald Trump, Paul Gosar, Mike Flynn, and Mike Lindell.” Meanwhile, Republic columnist Laurie Roberts calls Kari Lake, Abe Hamadeh, Mark Finchem and Blake Masters “the four horses of the apocalypse.”
“She and the chairwoman of the Arizona GOP, Kelli Ward, want to immolate the state GOP on a pyre of insanity and ridiculous lies, and may well succeed,” the National Review writes.
Someone should do it: No office is legally responsible for checking to ensure candidates actually live in the districts they file paperwork to run in, making it possible for candidates to file to run outside their district and requiring lawsuits to suss out residency, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Camryn Sanchez reports. Some want the secretary of state to conduct a check on residences, but the office has historically not done so.
Comings and goings: Longtime Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk will retire at the end of the year. And the Central Arizona Project, the agency that brings water to the desert, will have a new general manager, former U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.
Teach ‘em young: Kids can participate in mock elections to learn about the democratic process at 10 YMCA locations across the Phoenix area through today. The YMCA also offers four hours of free childcare on Election Day, if you need help with kids to get to the polls.
Big ramifications for Arizona tribes: A U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Texas couple adopting a Navajo child seeks to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which has broad implications for tribal nations, the New York Times reports. One Arizona tribe, the Pascua Yaqui, is closely watching the case; the tribe has built a staff of attorneys and employees dedicated to ICWA cases, the Washington Post reports.
Party house crackdown: Lake Havasu City, a frequent vacation hotspot, is the most recent local government to consider new regulations of short-term rentals after the Legislature allowed cities to do so, the Havasu News’ Michael Zogg reports.
Go drink their coffee: José "ET" Rivera, the owner of Capitol neighborhood coffee shop Tres Leches Café, got to visit Vice President Kamala Harris at her official residence for a Small Business Administration event last month, the Phoenix New Times reports.
This week’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” dove into election subversion, the post-election plots to overturn voters’ decisions. And, as you might predict, Arizona played a prominent role in the segment.
The show joked about how Gov. Doug Ducey publicly screened Donald Trump’s call in 2020 while signing off on the election results, then dove into Kari Lake and Mark Finchem’s long string of election lies.
“She’s approaching elections with the same objectivity and nuance of a 5-year-old inventing a game in real time,” Oliver said of Lake. And of Finchem: a man who “wakes up every day to cosplay as a cowboy accountant,” who has a strange amount of novelty items in his legislative office.