Kris Mayes, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, speaking at a Nov. 2, 2022, campaign rally in Phoenix. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
With nearly 2.6 million votes tallied in this month’s election, Kris Mayes has won the closest contest in Arizona history for statewide office, defeating Republican nominee Abe Hamadeh for attorney general by just 510 votes.
But the lead isn’t the final word on the election: The narrow margin triggers an automatic recount under state law.
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In a Monday statement, Mayes acknowledged that her campaign always knew the race would be close. She also thanked all the election workers who have been counting over the past two weeks, as well as her supporters.
“Every vote mattered – and this race is surely a testament to that!” Mayes said. “As we head into this recount with a 510 vote lead, we feel confident that the end result will be the same, and I am very much looking forward to being your Lawyer for the People.”
In the days since the Nov. 8 election, election observers have been captivated by the race as Hamadeh sliced into Mayes’ lead. At one point, he drew to within 55 votes, but he was never to overcome his opponent.
The final count leaves both candidates with 50% of the votes, with Mayes at 1,254,612 and Hamadeh at 1,254,102.
Those numbers will send the race to a recount under Arizona’s new law that triggers an automatic recount if the margin between two candidates is 0.5% or less.
In Arizona’s recent past, recounts in Arizona have not changed the outcome of races. In a 2016 recount, Andy Biggs’ lead in a Republican congressional primary grew by 11 votes, giving him a victory of 27 votes. And in a 2014 recount, Republican Martha McSally added six votes to her lead, defeating incumbent Democrat Ron Barber for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by a total of 167 votes.
Hamadeh and other Republican candidates have repeatedly accused Maricopa County elections officials of incompetence and disenfranchising voters, amid printer and tabulation issues at some voting centers on Election Day.
“The media as the self-titled ‘guardians of democracy’ need to be asking one simple question of Maricopa County election officials: What went wrong?” Hamadeh tweeted on Sunday.
The printer problems affected about 30% of Election Day voting centers in Maricopa County. Voters whose ballots were affected weren’t able to have their votes counted by the on-site tabulation machines; instead, they were asked to deposit the ballots in a secure box to be counted later at the county’s downtown election headquarters. Most voters did so, though Vote Beat reported that 146 voters refused to do so and tried to cast ballots at another polling location without first canceling their original ballot.
While Hamadeh is headed to a recount, other Republican candidates aren’t, but still have refused to concede to their Democratic opponents. Kari Lake lost to Katie Hobbs by 17,116 votes in the race for governor and Mark Finchem lost to Democrat Adrian Fontes by 120,207 votes for secretary of state, but neither has acknowledged their losses.
Finchem, along with some other Republicans has even called for a completely new election in Maricopa County, something that is not allowed in Arizona law.
Also going to a recount, per the new law, will be the race for superintendent of public instruction, wherein Republican Tom Horne leads Democratic incumbent Kathy Hoffman by 8,968 votes.
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