A nation waits: U.S. election workers toil to count thousands of votes

  • control of the Senate is still undecided
  • Counting votes may take several days
  • Republicans moved closer to control the House

PHOENIX, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Election workers in Arizona and Nevada worked hard on Friday to count hundreds of thousands of ballots that could determine control of the U.S. Senate and the shape of President Joe Biden’s next two years in office, according to a tally of incumbents in both states. The battleground section can drag on for a few days.

Winning both contests will give either Democrats or Republicans the majority of the Senate, while the split will transform a December 6 Senate runoff election in Georgia into a proxy war for the chamber.

In the Nevada governor’s race, Republican Joe Lombardo defeated Democrat Steve Sisolak, Edison Research projected. Sisolak admitted the race.

“Whether you voted for me or for Sheriff Lombardo, it’s important that we now come together to continue moving the country forward,” Sisolak said in a statement posted on Twitter. “That’s why I reached out to the sheriff to wish him the best of luck.”

Sisolak said incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is on track to win a close race against Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt. As of Friday night he had closed within about 800 of Laxalt’s votes with more votes to be counted in Democratic-leaning Clark County.

Political analysts expect a rush of campaign funds to Georgia as Republicans and Democrats prepare for the final battle of the 2022 midterm elections.

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In Arizona, law enforcement officers remain on alert for potential protests, with barricades and security fences erected around Maricopa County’s election office, where dozens of officials are working 18-hour days to verify overwhelming votes and tabulate votes.

Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, has criticized election officials in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, as “incompetent” and “disgraceful,” accusing them of deliberately delaying vote counting.

Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a Republican, bristled at Lake’s comments. “Everyone should calm down a little bit and turn down the rhetoric. That’s the problem with what’s happening with our country now,” he told reporters.

In the fight for control of the House of Representatives, the Republicans are inching closer to becoming the majority and the end of four years of government by the Democrats. It would give Republicans veto power over Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and allow them to launch potentially damaging investigations into his administration.

Republicans have secured at least 211 of the 218 House seats they need for a majority, Edison Research projected late on Thursday, while Democrats have won 199. Many races where the winners have not been determined are in Arizona, California and Washington state.

Despite the real possibility that they could lose the House, Democrats are still celebrating their success in fending off a predicted loss after they angered voters over the Supreme Court’s decision in June to restore constitutional rights to abortion.

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy has announced his intention to run for speaker if Republicans take over, an outcome he says is inevitable.

It’s unclear whether a challenge to McCarthy will emerge, but some of the most conservative House Republicans have expressed doubt that he has enough votes to become speaker, the House’s most powerful official.

Meanwhile, the Republican infighting in the Senate broke into the open on Friday as senators urged the postponement of the leadership election on Wednesday so that they have time to discuss why the party did not fare better on Tuesday.

Mitch McConnell hopes to continue as Republican leader, despite sniping from former President Donald Trump and other conservatives.

(Live election results from all countries are here)


Officials overseeing vote counts in Arizona and Nevada Senate races, where Democratic leaders are trying to fend off Republican challengers, have said it could take until next week to count 520,000 uncounted ballots. Most of them were in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.

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The work was slowed by the need to match the signatures on the ballot papers to the voter registration signatures after the number of such votes was tallied on Election Day.

On Friday night Democratic Senator Mark Kelly held an edge over Republican Blake Masters, while Democratic Arizona gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs has widened her narrow lead in Lake, a Trump-backed Republican.

Several of Trump’s top-endorsed candidates lost key races on Tuesday, undermining his status as Republican kingpin and leading some Republicans to blame his divisive brand for the party’s disappointing performance.

The results could increase the chances that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who filed for his Democratic challenger on Tuesday, will choose to challenge Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination.

While Trump has not officially launched a third White House campaign, the former president has hinted that he will do so and plans a “special announcement” at his Florida club on Tuesday.

Trump singled out DeSantis in a statement on Thursday, taking credit for the governor’s political rise, while attacking critics on his social media site, Truth Social.

Reporting by Tim Reid in Phoenix and Joseph Ax, Jason Lange, Makini Brice, David Morgan and Moira Warburton in Washington; Written by Steve Holland, Rami Ayyub, Joseph Ax and Richard Cowan; Editing by Ross Colvin, Alistair Bell, Rosalba O’Brien and William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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