Settlement reached in tight Arizona Senate vote count

 
 
Updated 11/9/2018 4:54 PM
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  • CORRECTS FROM SEN.-ELECT TO CANDIDATE- U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks to a supporter at the Barton Barr Central Library, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Sinema and Republican challenger Martha McSally are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January.

    CORRECTS FROM SEN.-ELECT TO CANDIDATE- U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks to a supporter at the Barton Barr Central Library, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Sinema and Republican challenger Martha McSally are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. Associated Press

  • Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, speaks with voters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January.

    Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, speaks with voters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. Associated Press

  • Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes talks about the progress of the ballot count at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally.

    Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes talks about the progress of the ballot count at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. Associated Press

  • Workers at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office go through ballots Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally.

    Workers at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office go through ballots Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. Associated Press

  • Workers prepare ballots for counting machines at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix.

    Workers prepare ballots for counting machines at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. Associated Press

  • Workers organize ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally.

    Workers organize ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. Associated Press

  • A worker carries ballots to be verified at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally.

    A worker carries ballots to be verified at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. Associated Press

  • A worker prepares volunteers to verify ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally.

    A worker prepares volunteers to verify ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. There are several races too close to call in Arizona, especially the Senate race between Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally. Associated Press

  • A supporter crosses her fingers as she talks with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, at a get-out-the-vote event at the Arizona Education Association headquarters in Phoenix,  Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Sinema is facing Republican Martha McSally in the race to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring.

    A supporter crosses her fingers as she talks with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, at a get-out-the-vote event at the Arizona Education Association headquarters in Phoenix, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Sinema is facing Republican Martha McSally in the race to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring. Associated Press

  • Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, right, speaks with Caleb Klein and his sister, Grace Klein, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January.

    Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, right, speaks with Caleb Klein and his sister, Grace Klein, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. Associated Press

  • U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks to supporters at the Barton Barr Central Library, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Phoenix. Sinema and Republican challenger Martha McSally are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January.

    U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks to supporters at the Barton Barr Central Library, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Phoenix. Sinema and Republican challenger Martha McSally are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. Associated Press

  • U.S. Senate candidate and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema poses in between America Corrales and Terry Bortin in front of media on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at the couple's taco restaurant in Phoenix. Sinema, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Martha McSally is spending the final hours of election day talking to voters.

    U.S. Senate candidate and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema poses in between America Corrales and Terry Bortin in front of media on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at the couple's taco restaurant in Phoenix. Sinema, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Martha McSally is spending the final hours of election day talking to voters. Associated Press

  • FILE--In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, a supporter, left, crosses her fingers as she talks with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, right, at a get-out-the-vote event at the Arizona Education Association headquarters in Phoenix. The congresswomen running for Arizona Senate are in their final campaign swing as Republican Rep. Martha McSally barnstormed across rural Arizona and Sinema dashed around metro Phoenix. The two candidates were trying to turn out every last voter in the neck-and-neck race.

    FILE--In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, a supporter, left, crosses her fingers as she talks with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema, right, at a get-out-the-vote event at the Arizona Education Association headquarters in Phoenix. The congresswomen running for Arizona Senate are in their final campaign swing as Republican Rep. Martha McSally barnstormed across rural Arizona and Sinema dashed around metro Phoenix. The two candidates were trying to turn out every last voter in the neck-and-neck race. Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Arizona Republicans and Democrats agreed Friday to give rural voters an extra chance to fix problems with their ballots in the count of the state's tight Senate race.

That's a compromise after Republicans filed a lawsuit seeking to stop urban voters from using those procedures. The settlement was announced in a Phoenix courtroom.

The counties have until Nov. 14 to address the issue.

The Republican lawsuit alleged that the state's county recorders don't follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to address problems with their mail-in ballots, and that Maricopa and Pima counties improperly allow the fixes for up to five days after Election Day.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has jumped into a slight lead over Republican Martha McSally in the midst of the slow vote count.

Four local Republican parties filed a lawsuit Wednesday night challenging the state's two biggest counties for allowing voters to help resolve problems with their mail-in ballot signatures after Election Day. If the signature on the voter registration doesn't match that on the sealed envelope, both Maricopa and Pima County allow voters to help them fix, or "cure" it, up to five days after Election Day.

Many other counties only allow voters to cure until polls close on Election Day.

Only a few thousand votes would be affected by the issue, but every one counts in the razor-close U.S. Senate race.

At a brief hearing Thursday, a Maricopa County official said only about 5,600 ballots are at affected in her county and the rate is similar in the 14 smaller counties. More than 2.2 million votes were cast statewide.

On Thursday, Sinema jumped into a minuscule lead of about 9,000 out of 1.9 million votes counted after trailing since Tuesday. Her lead came from the two counties singled out by Republicans in their lawsuit, Maricopa and Pima Counties.

The race remained too close to call with at least 400,000 ballots still uncounted. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said counting may continue until Nov. 15. "We know there's urgency out there, but we want to get it right, not quick," he said.

Arizona is notoriously slow at tallying ballots even though about 75 percent of votes are cast by mail. Each of those ballots must go through a laborious verification process.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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