Why the AP called the Arizona Senate race for Mark Kelly

Blake Masters was not posting the number of votes he needed in Election Day ballots because they were counted and released by officials in Arizona’s largest county.

The Republican challenger was only significantly ahead of Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in a small number of vote batches from Maricopa County; in almost every other case, Kelly had a slight or substantial advantage.

That’s what led AP to call the race for Kelly after Maricopa County released another batch of 80,000 votes Friday night.

Now elected to his first full term, Kelly was one of the most successful Democrats to run in the entire state of Arizona. In 2020, he won a 2020 special election by more than 2 percentage points over incumbent Republican Martha McSally.

Some Republican activists in Arizona have advocated that voters intentionally wait until Election Day itself to cast their ballots. Part of that push was based on unsubstantiated theories that fraudsters could manipulate voting systems and rig results for Democrats, once they saw how many GOP votes were returned early.

Experts had also warned that such last-minute crushing of ballots could end up creating delays that could ultimately be used by a bad actor to undermine confidence in the election. There have been blockages this year. About a quarter of polling centers in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, had a printing issue on Tuesday, in which marks were not displaying correctly when voters showed up to print their ballots. Officials said the issue was resolved within hours and everyone was able to vote.

When first running for political office, Masters was endorsed by both former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Arizona has a long political history of voting Republican, but changing demographics have made the state more Democrat-friendly.

The AP did not appeal in the race for governor of Arizona between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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Visit https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Follow AP’s election coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

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