Barber's request to count ballots denied by Judge
Democrat Ron Barber, left, and Republican Martha McSally, right, give speeches during their election parties on Nov. 4. A judge denied Barber's request to count an additional 133 ballots.
Arizona’s heavily disputed 2nd Congressional District midterm election is still in a recount after a judge struck down a lawsuit to count 133 ballots that had been rejected as ineligible.
In the original count, Republican Martha McSally was 161 votes ahead of Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber.
Barber filed a lawsuit to stop the recount until 133 ballots from voters whom he claims were disenfranchised were counted.
U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson denied the request on Thursday.
Jorgenson said in her decision that the court is sympathetic to the 133 voters whose ballots will not be counted but isn’t convinced not counting the ballots would “undermine the integrity” of the election, according to The Arizona Republic.
“Even if all 133 votes are counted, it is undisputed that Martha McSally wins the election because she leads by a margin of 161 votes at this time,” Jorgenson wrote in her decision.
Barber’s campaign expressed its disappointment after the ruling on Thursday.
“While we are disappointed in the court’s decision, we remain committed to ensuring that Southern Arizonans are able to trust the integrity of this election, and we thank the voters who not only took the time to vote in this election, but who came forward to ask that their voices be heard,” campaign manager Kyle Quinn-Quesada said in a statement.
Lea Goodwine-Cesarec, one of the 133 voters, told The Arizona Republic she didn’t know she was at the wrong voting precinct, and no one told her, so she didn’t understand why her vote couldn’t be counted.
Kevin Hamilton, a lawyer for the campaign, argued at the hearing that voters did everything they were supposed to do. In cases such as Goodwine-Cesarec’s, Hamilton said the poll workers gave voters incorrect information, and that isn’t a good enough reason to discount their vote.
McSally attorney Eric Spencer disagreed with the Barber campaign and said some of the votes would still be ineligible based on state law.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett was a defendant in the suit and said counting the votes would set a precedent for rejected ballots in other counties. In Maricopa County, there are up to 700 ballots that would have to be recounted, he said.
McSally, who has declared herself the victor based on her 161-vote lead, has already attended freshman orientation in Washington.
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