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Our Views: No surprise: Arizona’s ballot mess was avoidable

November 9, 2018

The information age was supposed to make things easier, but counting ballots seems to get more complicated with every election cycle. Because Arizona seems to look for ways to add confusion to what should be a simple process, we don’t yet know who’ll represent the Grand Canyon State in the U.S. Senate. Same for the state superintendent of education race.

Maybe that lingering uncertainty would have been the case anyway — the vote count so far has Martha McSally with a razor-thin margin over Kyrsten Sinema, so the chances of a recount are pretty high. But it turns out what’s actually prolonging things is our own stupidity.

Arizona has 15 individual counties, and each seems to run its elections department a little differently. Normally, that’s not a problem, but sometimes it is. This week, for instance, ballot verification became an issue because the state’s two largest counties are attempting to continue to verify ballots while other Arizona counties stop the verification when election day ends.

That’s enough of a difference that it resulted in a lawsuit by Republicans, presumably seeking results in their favor, since the counties being questioned are counties where voters favored Democrats over GOP candidates.

It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that such disparities among the counties led to someone calling foul, putting the fate of governance in the hands of the courts.

It shouldn’t be this hard, folks.

We knew there was an election coming. We knew it would be monitored closely for these kinds of issues. And yet, despite plenty of hand-wringing in the weeks and months leading up to the election, we still don’t have a winner three days later. Worse, whoever does ultimately win will contend with skepticism about the legitimacy of their claim to the seat.

All Arizona counties ought to follow the same procedures for elections. If the 15 counties working with the secretary of state can’t figure out how to do that, then the Legislature and governor ought to get involved.

We’d suggest putting the issue before voters, but considering the mess we’re in now that may not be such a good idea.

— Today’s News-Herald

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