(The Center Square) – Arizona has found itself at the center of one of the most contentious electoral cycles in decades and Gov. Doug Ducey took a moment Thursday to temper expectations about when cable news networks would be able to put a checkmark next to a candidate’s name.
Even under normal electoral cycles, Arizona has lagged behind much of the nation in finalizing its results.
In 2012, county clerks were still tabulating provisional ballots three weeks after polls closed, garnering national attention. In 2016, the Arizona Secretary of State’s website crashed just after ballots began getting counted, delaying results from being posted well into Wednesday morning. In 2018, Republican Martha McSally cast doubt on the integrity of late results trickling in favoring the eventual winner, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. McSally lost the election by fewer than 56,000 votes out of more than 2.3 million cast in the race before being appointed to replace John McCain later that year.
It’s a close race this year for McSally and her Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, wherein the winner will be seated earlier since the race is a special election. But all eyes are on whether Joe Biden can become the first Democrat in decades to take Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, which could leave the state in the national spotlight for days after Nov. 3.
Even with a record number of vote-by-mail ballots expected, election officials expect a quicker turnaround than other years due to a change in state law that allows them to begin counting ballots two weeks before Election Day. The August primary took advantage of the early counting, but turnout in November is expected to dwarf the primary ballot count.
When asked about the coming election, Ducey was cautious in his words.
“Election integrity is top-of-mind and a top priority for me,” Ducey said. “But, I want to manage expectations that we will likely not be declaring a winner, possibly at the state level and certainly nationally, on the evening of November 3rd and whoever wins that electoral college will be declared President of the United States.”
President Donald Trump had cast doubt on whether or not he would cede his office if the election doesn’t go his way, citing the potential for election fraud that takes advantage of historic vote-by-mail expansions. When asked, Ducey said he trusts the president would abide by the constitutional restraints of his office.
“We’ve been doing this as a country since 1796 with a peaceful transition of power, and I think that those comments were clarified today in terms that there would be respect for any free and fair election,” he said.
This article was initially published at TheCenterSquare