Originally Published: November 13, 2018 5:07 p.m.
PHOENIX — The latest votes counted appear to put Democrat Sandra Kennedy close to being able to reclaim a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission.
But there still are enough uncounted ballots out there to leave the race for secretary of state up in the air for another day - if not longer.
New figures from the Secretary of State’s Office show Kennedy has so far tallied 1,004,281 votes. That puts her more than 10,000 votes ahead of incumbent Republican Justin Olson.
But the key here is that there are two seats up for grabs. And even if there is a late burst of votes for Olson, appointed last year after Doug Little quit to take a job in the Trump administration, Kennedy, who served on the commission from 2009 through 2012, still has about 14,500 votes more than Rodney Glassman, the other Republican on the ticket.
Glassman, a Phoenix attorney, could still overtake Olson to get a seat on the panel that regulates utility rates. But unless both he and Olson also overtake Kennedy, she will get one of the two open spots.
Kiana Sears, the other Democrat in the race, is out of the running with 50,000 fewer votes than even Glassman.
In that race for secretary of state, Democrat Katie Hobbs is maintaining here lead over Republican Steve Gaynor -- but just barely.
The new returns give her an edge of 4,957 votes. That difference actually is about 800 votes less than the margin of her lead after counting ended on Monday.
There are still a lot of early ballots to be counted. Maricopa County alone has 126,000 to be processed.
But the trend of those ballots has generally been in favor of the Democrats, with Kennedy outpolling Olson, a former state representative lawmaker from Mesa, by nearly 8,000 votes.
And Hobbs, a state senator from Phoenix, has 12,000 more votes from Maricopa County than businessman Gaynor.
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said those seeking a quick end to the counting should not hold their breath.
“Some of the ballots we are currently processing require extra attention and research,’’ he said in a prepared statement. “We are taking the time needed to make sure every voter’s voice is heard.’’
Spokeswoman Murphy Hebert said many of these are “conditional provisional’’ ballots - those that were cast at polling places but people did not bring the proper identification.
They are, however, permitted to have the ballots counted if they show up at the recorder’s office after Election Day.
Others include the early ballots where signatures on the envelopes do not match what is on file. A court order Friday confirmed that counties have through the end of the day today (eds: Wednesday) to contact voters to determine if they did, in fact, sign the envelopes.
And then there are other issues, like stray marks on ballots or someone voting for more than one person for an office.
These ballots are kicked out of the counting machines and review boards need to check them to determine a voter’s intent before crafting a new - and clean - ballot.