U.S. election workers toil to count thousands of votes in Senate races

Ballots are processed at the Maricopa County Elections Center in Phoenix, Nov. 9, 2022.

Arizona and Nevada election workers were toiling on Friday to tally 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, in a vote count that officials in the two battleground states warn could drag on for days.

Winning both contests would give either Democrats or Republicans a Senate majority, while a split would transform a Dec. 6 runoff Senate election in Georgia into a proxy battle for the chamber.

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Political analysts are anticipating a rush of campaign funds into Georgia as Republicans and Democrats gear up for the final battle of the 2022 midterm elections.

In Arizona, law enforcement officials remained on high alert for potential protests, with barricades and security fencing erected around the Maricopa County elections department, where dozens of officials are working 18-hour days to verify outstanding ballots 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 “despicable,” accusing them of deliberately delaying the vote counting.

Bill Gates, chairperson of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a Republican, bristled at Lake’s comments. “Everybody needs to calm down a little bit and turn down the rhetoric. That’s the problem with what’s going on with our country right now,” he told reporters.

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