With 2 majors races too close to call, here’s how recounts work in Arizona
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — As the final ballots are counted across Arizona, there are still several races that are too close to call. And thanks to a change in the automatic recount law earlier this year, there’s a better likelihood that some of these races will continue well into December.
It used to be that votes had to be within 0.1% of each other for an automatic recount. Now, that number has grown to 0.5%. And being within that range means weeks of new ballot counting procedures. “We should be recounting all the way through the end of December,” Maricopa County Elections Communications Director Megan Gilbertson said.
Since 2014, Maricopa County has done three automatic recounts, enough for Gilbertson to know that this process doesn’t happen overnight. “It does take some more time, and definitely some more resources in order to do these automatic recounts,” she said.
Once an election has been certified by the Secretary of State scheduled for Dec. 5, they must get a court order to begin the recount process. That includes performing logic and accuracy tests to ensure the equipment counts the ballots correctly before opening them up and putting them through the tabulation equipment. “Here in Maricopa County, it would take hundreds of people to make sure this process is done correctly and by law,” Gilbertson said.
For federal, statewide, or legislative races (like the attorney general and superintendent of public instruction races which are currently on track to go to an automatic recount), that process also includes a 2% hand-count audit. “We definitely need the Maricopa County political parties’ support in order to conduct those hand counts,” Gilbertson said. “They’re the ones that appoint those hand-count board members.”
But unlike the general election results, we won’t get daily updates about the hand-count audit, the logic and accuracy test, or any other parts of the recount process. That’s because, by law, it’s supposed to be a secret. “We run the ballots through the tabulation equipment, but the results have to be brought directly to the Maricopa County Superior Court judge to affirm the results,” Gilbertson said. “And we’re not allowed by law to provide those results before that court hearing.” Gilbertson says any recount process should be done by Christmas to give winning candidates enough time to prepare to take office in January.
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