Ducey endorses an Election Day plan that could help tally votes faster, but at a cost

The faster-count plan is not as simple as Ducey and lawmakers have proposed.

By Mary Jo Pitzl || Arizona Republic

Gov. Doug Ducey, addressing one of the biggest complaints about last month’s election, said he thinks it’s possible to know the winner in close races on election night or the next day.

The governor said the major change in Arizona elections isn’t the procedure, which he trusts, but rather that Arizona has become a swing state.

“Things have changed,” he said, after participating in the statewide canvass of the Nov. 8 votes. “Our elections have become much more competitive.”

He embraced a process that would allow voters who prefer to drop off their mail-in ballots at the polls on Election Day to personally feed their ballot into a tabulation machine. That way, their vote would be counted as soon as the polls close, as is the case with ballots cast by voters who go to the polls.

That idea was introduced into state law earlier this year, but as an option for county elections officials to follow. None of the 15 counties did so, citing concerns over the cost and logistics of setting up parallel processes for same-day voters and early voters who drop off on Election Day.

Already, Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, has said he intends to amend the law to make the procedure mandatory.

Ducey said such a procedure would get out results quicker, making it more obvious who has won even in close contests.

Technically, election results aren’t final until the statewide canvass is completed, but political candidates and the media tend to call races even before all the votes are counted once a trend is clear. In close races, it takes time for a candidate or an issue to amass enough votes to show a definitive winning trend.

That has always been the case, Ducey said, noting not just his wins, but those of other candidates as well, in 2014 and 2018. But this year, with close races for the U.S. Senate, governor and attorney general, people have seized upon the wait time ― up to one week in the governor’s race ― as a need to speed up the counting.

The delay also has fueled suspicions and conspiracy theories that elections officials are altering the vote, although there has been no such evidence.

The faster-count plan is not as simple as Ducey and lawmakers have proposed.


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December 2022