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Lots of vote counting left for Pima County

Senate race hangs on thin margins
Posted at 7:43 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 21:43:47-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Even two days past the election there are still plenty of votes to count at the Pima Elections Department and that counting is going to go on for days more.

That leaves plenty of suspense in the U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.  They have traded the lead back and forth in a race often split by less than a one percent margin.

Even with machines counting the ballots, a lot of humans handle the ballots first to make sure they're valid---and that can be slow going.
By mid-afternoon, Pima Elections Director Brad Nelson said he had about 85 thousand to go.  About 18 thousand are provisional ballots--and they take extra time to verify.

Nelson says, "For example, you used to live in Vail and you moved to Oro Valley but you never updated your voter registration to reflect that new address. The County Recorder has a provisional ballot you cast at your new neighborhood but they've got to go back to the previous precinct to make sure that you didn't vote there. Can't vote twice in elections."        

To guard against hacking, the systems do not link to the internet. 
The political parties can station volunteer observers to watch workers verify ballots and run those ballots through the counting machines.

Pima Republican Chair David Eppiheimer says, “You might want to flag if he or she didn't see the signature matchup going as it should, because you can see on the screen you can see there's a computer screens and you can see the signature that the worker is trying to match to."         
Pima Democratic Chair Jo Holt says it's a job for volunteers who love procedure and precision.

"And they really care about fairness, quite frankly. So, you know, with the hand count audit, which will be doing on Saturday, we all work together, all four parties are sitting at the same tables, and we're all working together. It's a good feeling."
And the county chairs for the Democrats and Republicans say procedures here give them confidence in a good, honest count.