U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, Martha Mc Sally

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, Martha McSally.

The vote count in Pima County won’t be updated until Monday, officials announced Saturday afternoon — although they had planned to continuing counting throughout the weekend.

Postponing the tabulation of ballots will leave the Arizona Congressional District 2 contest and several other close races in limbo, as supporters wait for roughly 13,000 ballots to be counted.

The current vote totals in the Congressional District 2 race have Republican Martha McSally now leading by 509 votes in her challenge to Democratic Rep. Ron Barber.

Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson said his department is working this weekend but will spend the time preparing ballots to be counted. The counting of ballots will resume on Monday, he said.

Nelson said in a written statement that roughly 3,000 ballots have to be duplicated because they were ripped, stained or somehow marked in an unusual manner that a scanning machine wouldn’t be able to tabulate correctly.

“We have approximately 3,000 ballots that are in need of duplication so that the votes can be properly tallied. That duplication is being done under observation of the political parties,” Nelson wrote. “It is a time consuming process to transfer all votes from one ballot to another. Once that original duplication is performed by a two member board, the ballot is then reviewed for accuracy by an additional board.”

On Friday, Nelson gave an example of a ballot that would need duplication. If a person were to cross out an otherwise filled-in bubble with a handwritten note instructing staff workers to count their vote for another person, the ballot would have to be duplicated.

Nelson noted his staff also had to conduct a hand-count audit on Saturday to make sure that the tabulation equipment in Pima County is counting correctly.

“That audit required members of the election office staff, along with approximately 60 auditors designated by the political parties, to be absent from the election center as we hand-count-audited 10 precincts’ results and approximately 10 batches of early ballots to make certain that the tabulation hardware/software has been counting the current election correctly,” Nelson said.

The remaining 13,000 ballots yet to be counted in Pima County are a mix of about 3,000 remaining early ballots and about 9,800 provisional ballots.

Other close races yet to be decided include House races in Legislative Districts 4, 9 and 10, and the Senate race in Legislative District 8.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.