PHOENIX — Maricopa County officials on Monday certified results from Arizona’s Aug. 30 primary election, taking a step toward a recount in the still-undecided race for the Republican nomination in a Phoenix-area congressional district.
State Senate President Andy Biggs leads former internet executive Christine Jones by 16 votes in the 5th Congressional District. State law requires a recount because of the small margin.
Lawyers for Jones’ campaign sent a letter Monday to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Secretary of State Michele Reagan, saying nearly 600 ballots cast in the race contained votes for too many candidates.
The letter said the situation should be investigated to ensure it wasn’t caused by machine error.
Jones’ campaign also questions “an unexplained drop in ballots tabulated from certain Chandler precincts” on Sept. 2, “including an entire region of Chandler that appears to be missing.”
A spokeswoman for Brnovich said they received the letter and were reviewing it. There was no immediate response from Reagan’s office.
The county Board of Supervisors’ approval of the county’s canvass was sent it to state officials. Later Monday, the secretary of state’s office announced that the statewide primary canvass had been certified. The office said in a statement that “steps to initiate a recount of Congressional District 5 will occur tomorrow, September 13.”
The GOP primary winner will be favored to win the open seat for the heavily Republican district in southeastern Phoenix suburbs. Incumbent Republican Matt Salmon is retiring.
Biggs led by just eight votes in unofficial results in the four-way race before 18 additional ballots were counted Friday under a court order.
Jones had sued, arguing that numerous votes were improperly not counted for various reasons. A judge rejected most of Jones’ arguments but ordered the counting of 18 ballots from voters who weren’t told the provisional ballots they cast on Election Day at incorrect polling places wouldn’t be counted.
Jones campaign attorney Joe Kanefield unsuccessfully asked the supervisors to delay the canvass by another day and to authorize counting of provisional ballots cast by about 100 additional voters.
Kanefield said a state law on missing ballots authorized the supervisors to order more counting, but Supervisor Steve Gallardo said that law dealt with ballots actually missing, not just uncounted.
“We know where they’re at,” Gallardo said of the additional provisional ballots.
Jones also addressed the supervisors, praising the work of elections officials but urging the county to do more to educate voters and to ensure that all votes are counted.
“This has never been about me,” she said. “This has always been about the voters.”
Biggs campaign attorney Kory Langhofer told supervisors that Jones’ campaign got what it requested in last Friday’s order by Judge Joshua Rogers, but now “they’re coming to you for more.”