Kyrsten Sinema takes narrow lead in Arizona Senate race, but final tally is still days away

As of this morning, the Arizona Senate race remained too close to call but Republican Martha McSally held a narrow lead of about 17,000 votes. However, as I explained here, that vote total still did not include an estimate 650,000 outstanding votes that had yet to be counted. Today at 5 pm local time, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office updated those numbers and now Democrat Kyrsten Sinema holds a slight lead of just over 2,000 votes. From ABC 15:

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sinema has 916,380 votes statewide, while McSally has 914,369.

345,000 votes remain uncounted in Maricopa County while a small number of ballots remain uncounted as well in smaller counties.

Officials estimate about 195,000 of those are early ballots, provisional, and out-of-precinct ballots that voters cast or dropped off on Election Day.

GOP officials in the state filed a lawsuit asking that rules regarding the handling of ballots be made uniform throughout the state. A judge ruled Thursday that the current vote counting could go on. From the Washington Post:

Judge Margaret R. Mahoney said it was too soon to require Maricopa and other counties to stop contacting voters to verify signatures on mail ballots. She also declined to order the counties to temporarily separate mail ballots that have been verified by that process after Election Day…

The suit alleges that the state’s county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to address problems with their mail-in ballots, and that Maricopa and Pima counties improperly allow the fixes for up to five days after Election Day.

Lawyers who filed the suit say they’d be happy if Mahoney decided to order the state’s more rural counties to follow the same procedures, which would have the effect of expanding the vote count.

Currently, several other counties that lean Republican destroy mail ballots if voters don’t help verify their signatures before polls close on Election Day.

According to Adrian Fontes, the person responsible for counting ballots in Maricopa County where 60% of the State’s residents live, completing the count of all outstanding ballots could take another week. So maybe next Wednesday or Thursday we’ll have a final tally. Until then, the plan is to update the numbers every evening at 5 pm local time.

Update: It appears the vote tally has been updated again since 5 pm. The current tally now has Sinema leading by almost 9,000 votes. Here’s a note of pessimism from Laura Ingraham:

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