Why has the state of Arizona taken so long to return results in the 2020 US Presidential Election?
Despite an early call by the Associated Press and Fox News, Arizona was generally considered one of the last uncertain states after the 2020 presidential election. In fact, still as of Sunday night, five days after the election, most other outlets (including ABCCBSNBCCNNNYTimes) have felt too uncomfortable to call it:
This list from a story by local television networks shows that there are still outstanding ballots in every county in the state.
Perhaps the smaller counties come from the listed 7,553 needing further verification or the 44,668 provisional ballots, since the remaining count hasn't changed in those places in days. But 47,178 ballots are listed as "ready for tabulation", suggesting there's nothing particularly unique about the ballots left in the larger counties where results gradually have been changing.
Other states with slower results have pointed to issues with:
- Rules that prevent early counting of mail-in/absentee ballots (AKGAMINVPAWI)
- Rules that allow arrival of ballots after election day if postmarked on time (AKNVNCOHPA)
- Unexpected delays like pipe bursts or Internet outages
Wisconsin was a state among the later calls on election night, and had similar rules to Arizona... but this Milwaukee Journal story suggests all locations except one town of 300 people were completed seven hours after polls closed.
Florida, likewise a close state, likewise with similar rules to Arizona (and always highly regarded for election success!), had 99% of precincts reporting six to seven hours after polls closed according to this Orlando Sentinel story.
I haven't checked into every last no-contest state to see if any of others with helpful deadlines have had delays, but haven't come across any.
And this story suggests that counting of both early votes and mail-in ballots were indeed started two weeks before Election Day.
So what in the world has been the particular widespread delay across the state of Arizona?