Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema saw her chances of victory in the state’s United States Senate race improve on Friday evening when the Arizona Secretary of State reported that the 42-year-old congressional representative’s lead over Republican Martha McSally had increased to more than 20,000 votes, or one full percentage point.
At the moment, approximately 400,000 ballots still remain uncounted, according to a Politico report. More than 2 million votes in the Arizona senate race had been counted as of Friday evening. Prior to the update which came in at approximately 4 p.m. local time in Arizona, Sinema had edged into the lead over McSally by about 9,000 votes, according to a CNN report.
However, Republicans were not happy that their candidate, who held a slight lead on election night Tuesday, now appeared to be on the losing end of the race, per the Arizona Republic. State Republican Party officials accused Adrian Fontes, the county recorder in Maricopa, of “premeditated destruction of evidence,” following earlier allegations of “voting irregularities.”
Republicans have also claimed that signatures on mail-in ballots, which account for about 75 percent of all ballots in Arizona, do not match voter signatures on file, according to NBC News. The report also claims that Republicans have sued to prevent the counting of those ballots.
On Friday, President Donald Trump inserted himself into the race, accusing Arizona officials of “corruption” and calling for the election to be held again, according to Politico.
“Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption — Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!” Trump wrote on his Twitter account.
In reality, the Associated Press reported on Friday, there is “nothing unusual” taking place in Arizona.
“There is zero evidence of anything unusual going on in the Arizona vote-counting — and no elected Republican officials in the state have cried foul,” wrote AP correspondent Nicholas Riccardi.
“It’s plausible that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s opponent, McSally, could jump back into the lead in coming days. That wouldn’t be suspicious, either.”
To net 22k votes from that remaining total, McSally needs to win them by 6 percentage points
— Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) November 10, 2018
Riccardi also reported via his Twitter account that there are 362,000 uncounted ballots in the state as of about 4:30 p.m. local time. In a subsequent tweet, he added that McSally would need to win that remaining batch of ballots by six percentage points.
Arizona’s heavy reliance on mail-in ballots, which must be verified by hand, causes Arizona to be one of the slowest states when it comes to tallying votes in any election, the AP report said.
According to political experts, Sinema appears to have a good chance of holding on to her lead and ultimately winning the Arizona Senate seat that will be vacated by the retirement of Republican Jeff Flake. According to Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report, many of the ballots remaining to be counted come from Sinema’s home district, meaning that she appears to hold an advantage as the count continues.