Hobbs keeps lead over Lake

Election workers were still digging into a mountain of ballots on Thursday — more than 600,000 statewide, according to a tracker posted by the Arizona secretary of state.

The highest-profile offices on the ballot, from U.S. senator to governor to other key statewide positions, remained too close to call. Results from around the state will continue to be posted throughout the day on Friday.

Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state, released a major update of results on Thursday evening.

Looking for the latest updates? Follow Friday’s coverage of Arizona’s midterm election by Republic reporters.

Here’s a recap of Wednesday’s election events.

Hobbs keeps lead over Lake

Democratic nominee for governor Katie Hobbs held her lead over GOP nominee Kari Lake as the neck-and-neck contest remained too close to call on Thursday evening.

Kelly stays ahead in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, maintained a lead Thursday evening over Republican Blake Masters.

10 p.m.: Yee on course to win treasurer’s race

Kimberly Yee, the incumbent treasurer and a former state lawmaker, maintained a strong lead over Democrat Martín Quezada, a state senator, after Thursday’s ballot tallies.

Yee is seeking another four years in office. She was the first Asian American candidate to win statewide office in Arizona when she was elected in 2018. Quezada has said he ran to improve a statewide office that is too often used as a steppingstone for politicians.

9:40 p.m.: Jenn Duff gains in lead for Mesa City Council; voters favor public safety bond

Mesa’s $157 million public safety bond and three other local measures continue to be favored by voters after updated ballot tallies Thursday evening.

Incumbent Jenn Duff gained in her lead for a second term on City Council to represent District 4, which covers central and downtown Mesa.

The multimillion-dollar bond request will pay for fire stations, a renovated police headquarters and an expanded fire and police training facility.

Voters considered two city charter changes. One relates to how the city negotiates with public safety employee associations. The other updates which purchases must be approved by the City Council. Currently, the council must approve any purchase of materials over $25,000. The measure will allow the council to change the spending limit via city ordinance rather than sending it to the voters each time a change is sought.

The question of home rule — used in more than half of Arizona cities — lets the council, rather than a 42-year-old state spending formula, decide what services the community needs. The city must secure voter approval every four years to continue the practice. Mesa voters have consistently approved home rule requests.

— Maritza Dominguez

9:25 p.m.: Three Maricopa County judges at risk of losing their posts

The judicial retention results as of Thursday evening continued to show that most judges across the ballot would keep their posts, except for three Maricopa County Superior Court judges.

While still holding enough votes to remain a justice, William Montgomery had the lowest number of approval votes Thursday when compared with his Arizona Supreme Court justice colleagues James Beene and Ann Timmer.

All five Arizona Court of Appeals judges — Kent Cattani, Cynthia Bailey, David Gass, Michael Brown and Steven Williams — seemed poised for retention.

Rusty Crandell, Stephen Hopkins and Howard Sukenic were the three judges, out of 47 Maricopa County Superior Court judges on the ballot, whose vote majorities were against retention.

— Miguel Torres

9:20 p.m.: Jason Beck leading in Peoria mayoral race

Jason Beck maintained his lead over Bridget Binsbacher, a longtime council member, in the race for Peoria mayor following Maricopa County’s Thursday evening ballot drop.

Incumbent Brad Shafer led challenger Diane Douglas, the former Arizona schools chief, for the council seat representing north Peoria’s Mesquite District.

Newcomer Jennifer Crawford held a narrow lead over incumbent Vicki Hunt in the race for the council seat representing the Acacia District in south Peoria.

— Corina Vanek

9:15 p.m.: Phoenix City Council races still too close to call

Phoenix’s two competitive City Council contests were too close to call after more votes were counted Thursday, but the unofficial tallies showed both races were tight enough to likely lead to runoff contests in March.

Half of the city’s eight council seats are on the ballot, but the race to represent District 8 in south Phoenix and District 6 in Arcadia, the Biltmore area and parts of north central Phoenix are the most competitive.

District 8 incumbent Carlos Garcia was in a dead heat with challenger Kesha Hodge Washington.

Kevin Robinson narrowly pulled ahead in the open field of eight candidates vying to replace term-limited Sal DiCiccio in District 6. Trailing Robinson by a small margin were Sam Stone and Joane Greene. Stone eked out a slim advantage over Greene Thursday, though the two were nearly tied.

It’s likely that the two top candidates in each race will head to March runoffs. Runoffs occur when no single candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.

— Taylor Seely

9:05 p.m.: Crane beats O’Halleran; three Arizona congressional races still undecided

Republican Eli Crane defeated incumbent Democrat Tom O’Halleran in the race for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, the Associated Press determined Thursday evening.

Three U.S. House races remain undecided:

  • 1st Congressional District: Democrat Jevin Hodge led incumbent Republican David Schweikert.

  • 4th Congressional District: Incumbent Democrat Greg Stanton was well ahead of Republican Kelly Cooper.

  • 6th Congressional District: Republican Juan Ciscomani led Democrat Kirsten Engel.

Earlier in the week, the Associated Press called the following U.S. House races: Incumbent Democrat Ruben Gallego beat Republican Jeff Zink in the 3rd Congressional District; incumbent Republican Andy Biggs won the 5th Congressional District contest, where he faced Democrat Javier Ramos and independent Clint Smith; and incumbent Democrat Raul Grijalva beat Republican Luis Pozzolo in the 7th Congressional District race.

Republicans Debbie Lesko and Paul Gosar ran unopposed in Congressional Districts 8 and 9, respectively.

8:55 p.m.: Buchli has a slim lead over Spence in Gilbert race

Bobbi Buchli maintains a slim lead over opponent Bill Spence in a runoff for the sole open seat on Gilbert’s Town Council as of Thursday evening as ballot counting continued.

Spence is a retired Navy lieutenant commander and nuclear engineering officer who served as an appointed Town Council member in 2020. Buchli is a real estate broker.

Gilbert voters settled most of the council races in August’s primary election, giving outright wins to incumbent Yung Koprowski and newcomers Chuck Bongiovanni and Jim Torgeson.

Three new Town Council members will be seated in January as incumbents Lauren Hendrix and Aimee Yentes did not seek reelection and appointed Councilmember Scott September lost in August.

— Maritza Dominguez

8:50 p.m.: Graham leading Carter in Scottsdale City Council race

Barry Graham maintained a sizable lead over Pamela Carter in the race for Scottsdale’s open City Council seat after Thursday’s ballot update.

— Sam Kmack

8:40 p.m.: Updated results on the 10 statewide ballot measures

Pass and fail calls on the propositions were made by the Associated Press.

  • Proposition 128: Failed. The proposition would have allowed the Legislature to change ballot measures that voters approve, or to divert funds from them if either the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court determined a measure to be unconstitutional.

  • Proposition 129: “Yes” leading “no” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would require future voter initiatives to cover only one subject and would require a description of that subject in the title. Any portion of such an initiative not addressed in the title would be void, even if approved by voters.

  • Proposition 130: Passed. The proposition allows property tax exemptions for veterans with disabilities, people with total and permanent disabilities, widows and widowers, regardless of when they became Arizona residents.

  • Proposition 131: “Yes” leading “no” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would change the Arizona Constitution to create the position of lieutenant governor.

  • Proposition 132: “Yes” leading “no” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would require 60% of voters to approve any new tax via a ballot measure.

  • Proposition 209: Passed. The proposition lowers the interest rate cap on medical debt and increases the value of assets protected from certain creditors.

  • Proposition 211: Passed. The proposition requires disclosure of the donors who currently can give to an umbrella organization for political advertisements and not have their names reported.

  • Proposition 308: “Yes” leading “no” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would allow any college student, regardless of their legal status in the U.S., to qualify for in-state tuition if they graduated from an Arizona high school and have lived in the state for two years prior.

  • Proposition 309: “No” was leading “yes” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would tighten identification requirements for voters, both those who vote by mail and those who vote at the polls on Election Day.

  • Proposition 310: “No” was leading “yes” following Thursday’s ballot updates. The proposition would establish a Fire District Safety Fund through a sales tax increase of one-tenth of 1%.

8:25 p.m.: Mitchell still leads Maricopa County attorney’s race

Following Thursday evening’s ballot updates, Republican Rachel Mitchell maintained a lead over Democrat Julie Gunnigle in the race for Maricopa County attorney.

Voters faced a choice between two divergent approaches to criminal justice in the Maricopa County attorney’s race.

It pitted Mitchell, the current county attorney who was appointed after the resignation of Allister Adel, against Gunnigle, an outsider and critic of the agency.

8:15 p.m.: Hoffman moves ahead of Horne in superintendent race

Incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman moved into the lead in the race for superintendent of public instruction following ballot tallies released Thursday night by Maricopa County.

Hoffman is now leading former superintendent and anti-bilingual education crusader Tom Horne.

The role of superintendent is largely an administrative job, not a policy-creation one.

Arizona’s superintendent can shake up educational priorities through public comment, but the role’s sphere of influence centers on pursuits like overseeing teacher certification, doling out funds, lobbying the Legislature and executing state and federal education laws.

8:15 p.m.: Mayes holds lead in attorney general race

Democrat Kris Mayes held her lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh in the race to become Arizona’s next attorney general following ballot tallies released Thursday night by Maricopa County. On Wednesday, Hamadeh had briefly taken the lead.

8:10 p.m.: Fontes keeps lead for Arizona secretary of state

Democrat Adrian Fontes maintained his lead in the race for Arizona secretary of state. Tallies released Thursday evening showed Fontes still ahead of Republican rival Mark Finchem.

7:30 p.m.: While ballots are still being counted, legislators elect leaders

Republican lawmakers on Thursday elected Warren Petersen, one of the most strident 2020 election deniers in the Legislature, as next year’s Senate president.

A group of 19 current senators and Senate candidates, meeting at the Irish Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix, also elected Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, as the new majority leader and Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, as whip.

Earlier in the day, Democratic lawmakers elected new leaders in the House and Senate.

It’s still not clear if Republicans or Democrats will have the majority once all the votes are counted. How the election results shake out could change minds on who is best for the leadership jobs, but only House Republicans decided to wait until more election results come in before voting on a speaker of the House and other leaders.

The Senate president and House speaker assign lawmakers to committees that hear bills and have the power to kill bills outright or prevent lawmakers from voting on them.

Petersen, R-Gilbert, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped lead the partisan 2020 election audit ordered by the current Senate president, Karen Fann, R-Prescott. He also was one of 30 GOP lawmakers who sent a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence in December 2020 asking him to turn Arizona’s electoral votes over to Trump or delay the election’s certification.

Democrats, meeting at the state Capitol, elected Rep. Andrés Cano, D-Tucson as House minority leader and Sen. Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, who’s returning to the House next year, as assistant minority leader. Co-whips will be Reps. Melody Hernandez, D-Tempe, who starts her second term next year, and Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez, D-Phoenix, who was appointed to the Legislature last year and likely just won election to a two-year term.

On the Senate side, Democrats elected Sen. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, who’s also the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, for Senate minority leader and Sen. Mitzi Epstein, D-Tempe for assistant minority leader. Sen. Rosana Gabaldón, D-Green Valley will be the minority whip. A new position was created for Sen. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix, called Caucus chair. Alston has served in the Legislature off and on since the 1970s.

Democratic lawmakers who had won their election or who currently had more votes than their Republican opponents were allowed to vote for leaders.

With a few hundred thousand votes still uncounted, it’s unclear if Republicans or Democrats will have majorities or if the House and Senate will be evenly split.

For an even split, the leaders of each caucus will negotiate a power-sharing agreement. This last happened in 2000 with a tie in the Senate.

— Ray Stern

7 p.m.: Pima County pushes Kelly further ahead

Votes counted in Democratic-leaning Pima County on Thursday helped Sen. Mark Kelly widen his lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters.

Kelly, D-Ariz., now leads Masters by just under 100,000 votes or 5.2 percentage points.

Maricopa County is expected to announce updated results Thursday evening based on the day’s counting.

There were an estimated 600,000 ballots to be counted statewide entering Thursday.

Of the ballots counted so far Thursday, Kelly has won 68%, and Masters received 30%.

— Ronald J. Hansen

6:30 p.m.: Unprecedented number of Maricopa County ballots dropped off on Election Day

One key reason for prolonged election results this week is the number of people in Maricopa County who decided to drop off their ballots on Election Day.

About 290,000 ballots were dropped off at polling locations on Tuesday and haven’t been counted yet, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman Bill Gates said Thursday afternoon.

The number of ballots dropped off on Election Day was unprecedented in Arizona’s most populous county, and changes the county’s original goal of having 95% to 99% of all ballots counted by Friday, Gates said.

In 2020, the ballots dropped off on Election Day tilted heavily Republican. But in 2018, that batch of ballots tilted Democratic, lifting Kyrsten Sinema to the U.S. Senate and three Democrats to statewide offices. Among those was Katie Hobbs, who was elected secretary of state that year.

While it is legal for voters to drop off their early ballots on Election Day, doing so delays finalizing the results.

— Richard Ruelas and Stephanie Innes

4:30 p.m.: Maricopa County ballot count will take longer

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said the ballot count likely won’t be done by Friday.

He said Maricopa County staff will work on Veterans Day and over the weekend to count ballots.

Maricopa County has counted 1.1 million votes and has another 400,000 to 410,000 to count.

Gates said the next ballot drop will be in “the 8 o’clock hour” Thursday night. Thursday’s report will cover early ballots received Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He estimated it would be slightly more than the 62,000 ballot results released Wednesday evening.

Gates said he expects results to continue being released in evening batches of about 62,000 or slightly more in the coming days. Early ballots that were dropped at the polls on Election Day will likely be counted starting Friday, he said.

Gates also said “it’s offensive” for Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, to charge that Maricopa County officials are slow-rolling election results. County staffers are working 14 to 18 hours a day, he said.

— Mary Jo Pitzl and Catherine Reagor

3:45 p.m.: Proposition to create lieutenant governor passing

Ballot measure, Proposition 131, to create the position of lieutenant governor in Arizona was passing as of Wednesday.

Full results may not be available for several days. Early results can flip as later votes are counted.

Voters are deciding for a third time if they want to replace Arizona’s century-old procedure for what to do if the governor unexpectedly leaves office.

They rejected two other ballot measures intended to change the line of succession, in 1994 and 2010.

One of eight measures placed on the ballot by the Legislature, it would change the Arizona Constitution to create the position of lieutenant governor.

— Ray Stern

3 p.m.: Republicans lead in AZ Corporation Commission races

Republicans in the race for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission are maintaining their leads, according to results released Wednesday evening.

Democrat Sandra Kennedy is the only incumbent on the ballot for the commission. She and fellow Democrat Lauren Kuby are in the race against Republicans Kevin Thompson and Nick Myers.

Thompson and Myers took the lead in the race early Wednesday and have maintained it with subsequent releases of results. If the lead for both holds, it will give Republicans an additional seat on the commission and a 4-1 majority over a lone Democrat.

— Ryan Randazzo

2 p.m.: Why are AZ ballots printed on Election Day?

Maricopa County uses several different machines at its vote centers: electronic check-in stations, ballot-on-demand printers and tabulators, where paper ballots are fed after people vote.

Ballots are printed on-site to give voters the option to vote at any voting location in the county, instead of going to an assigned location.

A ballot printed on-site ensures the voter gets the right ballot that includes their school district, City Council and other local races.

— Corina Vanek

Q&A: What happened at Maricopa County’s vote centers on Tuesday

Voters wait in line outside a polling station on  Nov. 8, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz.

Voters wait in line outside a polling station on Nov. 8, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz.

1:10 p.m.: Possible runoff elections for Phoenix City Council seats

Competitive contests for two Phoenix City Council seats were too close to call and could lead to runoff elections.

Half of the city’s eight council seats were on the ballot, but the race to represent District 8 in south Phoenix and District 6 in Arcadia, the Biltmore area and parts of north-central Phoenix are the most competitive.

District 8 incumbent Carlos Garcia was in a dead heat with challenger Kesha Hodge Washington.

Kevin Robinson narrowly pulled ahead in the open field of eight candidates vying to replace termed-out Sal DiCiccio in District 6. Trailing by a small margin behind Robinson were Joan Greene and Sam Stone.

If the returns hold, the two top candidates in both races will head to a runoff in March. Runoffs occur when no single candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.

— Taylor Seely

12:15 p.m.: Kari Lake slams election on Charlie Kirk podcast

With hundreds of thousands of votes left to be counted and her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs with a slight lead, GOP nominee for governor Kari Lake shared a confident message with her supporters on Thursday.

What she is not confident in, however, is Arizona’s election system.

“Listen, I’m a fighter, I think everyone knows that,” she told conservative influencer Charlie Kirk on his podcast. “I’m not going to let these guys with their incompetency slow me down. We are moving forward. We’re putting a team together and we’re working hard.”

Lake alleged the ongoing counting of votes was intentionally slow and reiterated her belief that all vote counting should occur on Election Day.

Single-day counting would take a herculean effort to pay for and staff counting of millions of paper ballots. Vote counting can take also several days in Arizona as election officials verify signatures on and process ballots received by mail.

“I’m already heading toward getting ready to govern this state, and we’re keeping our eyes on this election,” Lake said. “We’ve got attorneys, we’ve got eyeballs everywhere, the votes will eventually be counted. And we will change the way the system works.”

Kirk is notable for launching Turning Point USA, a conservative youth movement that has grown in prominence and shifted Arizona Republican politics to the right.

Both Lake and Kirk have repeatedly pointed to widespread problems with ballot tabulators in Maricopa County this year as they raise concerns about election security.

— Stacey Barchenger 

11:30 a.m.: New leader in Peoria mayor race

Businessman Jason Beck took a slim lead in the race for Peoria mayor Wednesday after all mail-in and same-day ballots were counted.

He is running against longtime Peoria Councilmember Bridget Binsbacher.

Beck trailed Binsbacher in the first rounds of results but pulled ahead at about 1:30 a.m. when a flood of same-day votes were released by Maricopa County elections officials.

At his campaign’s election night party, Beck said he was confident that later results would push him ahead.

“There is not a single thing left on the table for us to do, we worked as hard as we could,” Beck said, joking that he had worn through three pairs of shoes knocking on doors to gather support.

For the council races, challenger Jennifer Crawford narrowly pulled ahead of incumbent Vicki Hunt in the race for the council seat for the Acacia District in south Peoria. Incumbent Brad Shafer led challenger Diane Douglas for the council seat in north Peoria’s Mesquite District.

— Taylor Seely and Corina Vanek

Ballots are processed on Nov. 10, 2022, at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Elections Center in Phoenix.

Ballots are processed on Nov. 10, 2022, at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Elections Center in Phoenix.

10:30 a.m.: Maricopa County ballot hand count starts Saturday

Ballots are run at Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) on Nov. 9 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Ballots are run at Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) on Nov. 9 in Phoenix, Ariz.

The hand count of certain races and ballots in Maricopa County will begin Saturday.

Republican, Democratic and Libertarian party chairs drew which races and ballots will be reviewed Wednesday night.

This is an important step in ensuring the accuracy of the 2022 General Election results, according to Maricopa County.

On Election Day, about 30% of Maricopa’s polling places experienced widespread issues involving printers and the machines that count voters’ ballots.

Cochise County officials were proceeding with a hand count of every ballot cast in Tuesday’s election, despite a court ruling that bars them from doing so.

Its Board of Supervisors on Wednesday authorized its attorney to appeal that ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court, complicating the timeline for when — or if — the controversial count would actually happen.

— Catherine Reagor and Mary Jo Pitzl

9:40 a.m.: Measures for Maricopa school district funding passing

Two dozen Maricopa County school districts had funding measures on the ballot in the midterm election, and many were passing as of Wednesday night.

The measures asked voters to approve financing slated for a variety of projects, including athletic and extracurricular programs, teacher pay, school buses, furniture and technology.

Early results may signal relief for school districts with hopes of following through on capital projects and increasing their budgets for operational expenses.

Maricopa County election officials will continue to update the tally in the coming days as ballots are processed.

Property owners pay for bonds and overrides via property taxes. Bonds are a form of debt districts take on and use for longer-term capital projects, such as new buildings and facilities or renovations.

— Renata Cló and Yana Kunichoff

8:50 a.m.: GOP likely to keep control of Arizona House

Republicans were on track to keep control of the Arizona House of Representatives with vote counting that continued Wednesday.

At stake is not just the continuance of decades of Republican dominance, but the potential rise of a more conservative Legislature augmented by Trump-supporting candidates.

Democrats ran six candidates in the five legislative districts designed as competitive by last year’s redistricting process.

Results from Wednesday evening showed all six leading at least one of the Republican competitors in each of the races. If that and other results hold, including a potential upset by a GOP candidate, Republicans would keep the same one-seat advantage in the chamber.

More: Republicans still on track to keep control of Arizona House as Democrats’ hopes for a tie fades

—  Ray Stern

8 a.m.: Cochise County defies judge’s order on hand count

Cochise County officials proceeded with a hand count of every ballot cast in Tuesday’s election, despite a court ruling that bars them from doing so.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday authorized its attorney to appeal that ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court, complicating the timeline for when — or if — the controversial count would actually happen.

Recorder David Stevens acknowledged the order that blocks the county from hand counting all ballots. But, Stevens said, he was moving ahead on the advice of his attorney, Bryan Blehm.

“I have to drive on as if it’s going to happen,” Stevens said, noting the law requires a hand count to begin within 24 hours of when the polls close on Election Day.

Four races will be included in the hand count.

If he didn’t start the process Wednesday, Stevens said, critics could argue the county had missed the window to begin the unorthodox full count.

“I’m between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

An attorney for the Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans, whose lawsuit blocked the hand count, was unaware of the plan to proceed and declined comment on what action, if any, plaintiffs would take.

— Mary Jo Pitzl

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona election Thursday recap: Updates across the state

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