PHOENIX — Arizona is closing in on counting all leftover ballots with no real changes so far in who is leading.
As of Thursday afternoon the Secretary of State’s Office said counties were reporting about 300,000 ballots left to be tallied. Some of those figures were already two days old and had not been updated.
The lion’s share are in Maricopa County.
What makes that significant is that former Vice President Joe Biden has been running marginally ahead of President Donald Trump in the state’s largest county, tallying 944,285 against 880,347. In Pima County, where there were about 46,000 ballots to be counted, Democrat Biden had nearly 100,000 more votes than the president out of nearly 492,000 that already have been counted.
Statewide, while Biden’s lead has declined in the past day, he still had about 46,300 more votes than Trump. That means the president needs to pick up something north of 55% of the uncounted votes statewide to catch up.
Meanwhile Republicans were looking at the possibility of judicial intervention if the numbers do not appear to be going their way.
“All options are on the table,’’ said David Bossie, a senior campaign advisor to the Trump campaign, at a press conference Thursday afternoon at state GOP headquarters. “But we’re not there yet.’’
Separately the Donald J. Trump for President committee and the Republican National Committee have intervened in a separate legal fight over the use of Sharpies to mark ballots. And the Arizona Democratic Party also decided to get involved in that fight. (See story, Page 12.)
The Thursday event at GOP headquarters was more of a pep rally for the president featuring two of the state’s Republican members of Congress and Kelli Ward, who chairs the state party.
“We have the momentum, we have the activist community that is not going to allow this race to be stolen from President Trump or from Republicans all the way down the ballot,’’ Ward said.
She blasted Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
“I have some concerns about the (county) elections department and about Adrian Fontes himself,’’ Ward said. She accused his agency of relegating GOP poll watchers to a corner where they could not actually view the computer screens that are being used to verify signatures on ballot envelopes.
Fontes, however, said his office has been following the same protocols for poll watchers since the counting started. He said the staff at the election department works out the details with both political parties.
Bossie took a separate blast at the media, including what had been conservative favorite Fox News, for calling Arizona for Biden on Election Night.
“This has not been a mistake, folks,’’ he said. “They have been against the president, they’ve been against your president, from the very first minute, four years ago.’’
The focus on Arizona is not surprising with its 11 electoral votes. Counts were still going on Thursday afternoon in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada.
Aside from the GOP press conference, Trump supporters have been showing up for the past two days outside the offices where Maricopa County officials are counting the ballots.
On Wednesday evening the building was protected only by a handful of sheriff’s deputies, with protesters right up against the building. By Thursday the county had installed temporary fencing to keep people away from entrances, designating areas outside the fence as the “free speech zone.’’
In other races, the margins between apparent winners and losers were larger, meaning a greater hurdle to change the outcome.
Democrat Mark Kelly was leading incumbent Republican Martha McSally by about 103,000 votes in her bid to hang on to the Senate seat that used to belong to John McCain. Gov. Doug Ducey named her last year to the slot through the 2020 election; the winner will fill out the last two years of McCain’s term and will have to run again in 2022.
Foes of Proposition 208 would need to make up nearly 116,000 votes to quash the measure that seeks to hike income taxes on the state’s top 4% of wage earners to raise money for K-12 education.
A few legislative races also hang in the balance, with Democrat Coral Evans needing to make up the nearly 1,600 votes to catch up to Republican Brenda Barton for a seat in the state House.
Incumbent Republican Congressman David Schweikert was maintaining about a 10,300-vote edge over Democrat challenger Hiral Tipirneni.