In a news conference, they said they wouldn’t finish counting all the ballots until next week.
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PHOENIX — Election officials in Arizona’s most populous and politically important county announced Thursday that they would not complete counting ballots until early next week, adding to tensions in a state at the center of the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen.
With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, the announcement came after a day of increasingly heated rhetoric from statewide Republican candidates, most prominently the nominee for governor, Kari Lake, suggesting without evidence that election officials in the county, Maricopa, were intentionally “slow-rolling” the results to delay what she predicts will be her victory.
Ms. Lake’s Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, had a small lead, but Maricopa has yet to count some 400,000 ballots, with tens of thousands outstanding in other counties, as well.
Maricopa has for months been under immense scrutiny from promoters of the 2020 stolen-election lie — whose ranks include Ms. Lake — which hinged in part on false charges about malfeasance in Maricopa County.
At a news briefing at their heavily fortified tabulation center here, election officials — most of them Republicans — urged Ms. Lake to cease and desist as their workers, visible behind plate glass, forged ahead with their counting.
“Quite frankly, it’s offensive for Kari Lake to say that these people behind me are slow-rolling this when they’re working 14 to 18 hours,” said Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, and a former Republican election lawyer. “Everyone needs to calm down a little bit, tone the rhetoric down — that’s the problem with what’s going on in our country right now.”
Mr. Gates said the board’s critics were exploiting what was, in fact, a painstaking effort to bolster confidence and the integrity of the vote amid a climate of distrust and doubt. “Accuracy is paramount,” he said, “not speed.”
Arizona Election Officials in Maricopa County: Tone Down the Rhetoric – The New York Times