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Arizona election updates: Sen. McSally wins primary, Maricopa County sheriff’s race tight

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 8/5/2020 Arizona Republic

Arizona voters headed to the polls on Tuesday for a primary election that will narrow the field for November's general election and decide several Valley city races. 

a man standing in front of a brick building: A voter ducks his head while entering a polling station for the 2020 Arizona primary at ASU in Tempe on Aug. 4, 2020. The primary election was held with in-person and mail-in ballots amidst COVID-19. © Michael Chow/The Republic A voter ducks his head while entering a polling station for the 2020 Arizona primary at ASU in Tempe on Aug. 4, 2020. The primary election was held with in-person and mail-in ballots amidst COVID-19.

Follow azcentral.com throughout the day for the primary election's biggest moments, updates on voter turnout and candidate news. 

ELECTION RESULTS: See who won in Arizona's primary. 

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10:30 p.m.: Primary upsets are few in quiet day

More than 1 million Arizonans cast ballots in Tuesday's primary election. Incumbents largely won the day, with a few exceptions, and some races were still too close to call. 

The election saw virtually no lines, allowing for adequate physical distancing measures required for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Poll workers wore masks, face shields and gloves, and voters masked up, too. 

Several voters told The Arizona Republic that they preferred in-person voting, either for ballot security reasons or for the ritual of going to the polls.

Several also said they saw this year's election as the most consequential of their lifetimes, citing the pandemic and social unrest that have changed the state of the nation this year. 

Some races were quick wins, called early by the Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally easily fended off a challenge from the right from Daniel McCarthy. Physician Hiral Tipirneni beat former tech executive Anita Malik and business owners Karl Gentles and Stephanie Rimmer.

Some races remain too close to call, notably the Republican contest for Maricopa County sheriff, where beleaguered former sheriff Joe Arpaio is neck and neck with his former deputy, Jerry Sheridan.

Some legislative and local races were also up in the air. 

Incumbent Sen. Heather Carter was locked in a tight race with conservative Rep. Nancy Barto, and Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, seemed to be in trouble.

— Rachel Leingang and Maria Polletta

8 p.m.: McSally defeats McCarthy

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., has defeated Glendale businessman Daniel McCarthy, her Republican challenger, the first release of results at 8 p.m. showed. The Associated Press called the election for McSally shortly after. 

She will face Democrat Mark Kelly in November. Kelly faced only a write-in opponent in Tuesday’s primary.

The initial results included nearly all ballots cast before election day and mail-in ballots, apart from those dropped off at the polls on Tuesday.

McSally released a statement after the Associated Press called the race for her, pointing to Republicans' work in the past three years and taking jabs at Kelly, her opponent in the general election.

“Tonight’s record turnout of conservative Arizonans proves that Republicans are ready to fight for the future of our country and win in November,” McSally said in the statement. “We are on the cusp of a great American comeback.”

Kelly spent Tuesday calling in to virtual get-out-the-vote events to thank supporters for their efforts. On one Zoom call with organizers, he said the nation is "experiencing a crisis of leadership" at a dire and critical moment. 

As the polls closed on Tuesday, Kelly's campaign said McSally was replicating the same mistakes she made in 2018. The memo cited her struggle to consolidate support, her near-complete loyalty to Trump when it comes to her voting record, negative campaigning and siding with the GOP "over Arizonans, especially on health care." 

McCarthy had not released a statement as of 9:30 p.m. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

8 p.m.: County sheriff’s race tight

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff ousted by voters in 2016, is in a tight Republican primary race to regain the chance to face off against Sheriff Paul Penzone, the Democrat who beat him.

Arpaio and his former deputy, Jerry Sheridan, were in a dead heat in the first results drop at 8 p.m.

Mike Crawford is also running, but trailing behind Arpaio and Sheridan. Lehland Burton is also running, as a write-in candidate. 

The initial results include nearly all ballots cast before election day and mail-in ballots, apart from those dropped off at the polls on Tuesday.

— Uriel Garcia

8 p.m.: Tipirneni wins 6th Congressional District primary

Hiral Tipirneni defeated Anita Malik in the Democratic primary in the Scottsdale-based 6th Congressional District, according to the AP. 

She will face five-term incumbent Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.

Tipirneni is among the best-funded challengers in the country and has grabbed the nomination in a race that will pit her against one of the worst-funded incumbents in Congress.

Democrats Stephanie Rimmer and Karl Gentles were well behind Malik, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee.

Democratic interest in the race was heightened last week after Schweikert made a deal with the House Ethics Committee to end a two-year-old probe by admitting to 11 rules violations, accepting a reprimand and agreeing to pay a $50,000 fine.

— Ronald J. Hansen

8 p.m.: Most congressional races unsurprising

There was no suspense at all in several of Arizona’s congressional races where there was only one candidate running for their party’s nomination.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., the dean of the state’s delegation, will face Republican Daniel Wood in the 3rd Congressional District that covers southwestern Arizona, including Tucson.

Neither man faced opposition in the primary.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., will face Republican Josh Barnett in the 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Phoenix and Glendale.

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert were also unchallenged in their primaries in the 5th, 8th and 6th congressional districts in the Valley.

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., was unchallenged for the 9th Congressional District nomination in his party.

— Ronald J. Hansen

8 p.m.: Legislative races to watch

Here are initial results from the 8 p.m. drop for Arizona legislative races in key districts:

Rep. Nancy Barto was leading Sen. Heather Carter in early results from north Phoenix, where Barto is challenging Carter for District 15's senate seat.

Barto was ahead by a couple of percentage points in early results and her victory would be a big win for the right flank of the Republican Party, which has viewed Carter as too moderate.

Rep. David Cook was leading the Republican primary for House seats representing District 8, signaling he may well survive an embarrassing ethics investigation.

Another lawmaker dogged by scandal last session, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, led by more than 20 points in initial results from the Republican primary for her Senate seat representing Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. The AP called the race for Ugenti-Rita at 9:40 p.m. 

— Andrew Oxford

8 p.m.: 1st Congressional District has O’Halleran, Shedd in early leads

Both of the favorites in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District were leading in the early results but by relatively fragile margins.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., had about 57% of the vote against Eva Putzova. She ran well to his left in her lightly funded challenge to the two-term centrist incumbent.

On the Republican side, Tiffany Shedd had about 58% of the vote over Nolan Reidhead. Shedd has pulled in several prominent GOP endorsements.

— Ronald J. Hansen

8 p.m.: Gilbert mayor race is close

In Gilbert, where Mayor Jenn Daniels did not seek reelection, three candidates are competing for the post.

Brigette Peterson had a slight lead in the initial vote count, followed very closely by Lynne King Smith and Matt Nielsen. If no one gets more than 50% of the vote in Tuesday's primary, the top two vote-getters will square off in the general election on Nov. 3. 

— Alison Steinbach

8 p.m.: Ortega has narrow lead in Scottsdale mayor race

Former councilman David Ortega, who has been critical of development in the city's downtown area in the last year, was narrowly leading in Scottsdale's mayoral race, according to early results Tuesday.

Close behind was current council member Virginia Korte, who has run on a platform of strategic development. Korte voted for the controversial Southbridge II project that Ortega opposed.

Three Scottsdale city council candidates who have differing opinions on development in the city were leading by slim margins, according to early results.

The candidates, in order of votes received, were Betty Janik, Tammy Caputi and John Little.

— Lorraine Longhi

8 p.m.: Gunnigle has big lead in Maricopa County attorney race

Julie Gunnigle was outpacing her two Democratic challengers in the race to face Republican Maricopa County County Attorney Allister Adel in the Nov. 3 general election.

Gunnigle led by a 3-1 margin over her nearest challenger, Will Knight, followed by Robert McWhirter.

Adel is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

The initial results include nearly all ballots cast before election day and mail-in ballots, apart from those dropped off at the polls on Tuesday.

— Lauren Castle

7:35 p.m.: 41 Republican ballots mishandled in Pima County 

A polling place in Pima County mishandled 41 Republican ballots Tuesday, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

More than three dozen Republican voters at Morris K. Udall Recreation Center in Tucson were given incomplete ballots that included only federal races, Pima County's election supervisor Brad Nelson told The Star. 

Once the incorrect ballots had been submitted, the voters were unable to vote again, he said, leaving the voters without the ability to vote in state and local races in their districts. 

Nelson said the mistake was a "human error." 

— Jessica Boehm

7:30 p.m.: What a pandemic election looks like

For an election that many voters said they saw as one of the most consequential of their lifetimes, the actual election was relatively quiet.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way elections look, just like it altered basically everything else we do.

The process of voting looked different.

Polling places largely did not have lines, which in some elections in Maricopa County in past years have grown long.

People showed up the new pandemic uniform: Poll workers wore masks, face shields and gloves. Most voters wore masks as well, and some wore gloves.

There were few hiccups despite all the changes the pandemic warranted.

More than 51,500 ballots were cast today, per the Maricopa County Elections Department. That’s less than in 2016 and 2018, though the number of early and mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 primary is higher than in those years.

Many voters dropped off their mail-in ballots rather than voting the traditional way Tuesday.

Southern Plaza in south Phoenix had two separate lines, one for mail-in ballots and one for in-person voters. They also had a drop-off site outside for people to drive up and drop off their ballots.

Some voters adjusted their typical voting plans to try to ensure their safety.

Jassmelyn Rosario DeLeon, a 27-year-old enrollment counselor, chose to vote at Southern Plaza because she looked online and saw it had no lines or wait times. She wanted an option without many people because of COVID-19 concerns.

At a polling location at Arizona State University, there were very few voters. There hadn’t been a line all day because there were so many mail-in ballots dropped off.

Workers kept watch in the front with their face shields on.

Polling locations had signs posted about social distancing and mask requirements. There were also tents set up outside polling locations for lines, should any lines have appeared.

There was hand sanitizer and, in some of the locations, there were portable handwashing stations.

Overall, the biggest difference from a typical election was the lack of people.

— Cleo Krejci, Grace Oldham and Rachel Leingang

7 p.m.: Polls close

It’s 7 p.m., meaning polls are now closed in Arizona. If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you can still vote.

The first round of results should be posted online starting at 8 p.m.

The voting day was relatively quiet and free of hiccups. People who voted in person described precautions taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic as being adequate to ensure a safe experience.

6:45 p.m.: Daniel McCarthy on masks at party: "It's all a hoax"

Just before polls closed, McCarthy stepped off his campaign bus about 6:45 p.m. and entered a party set up at the Glendale strip mall that houses his family’s real estate firm and makeup-remover company. The crowd cheered.

“Wait, we have to win this thing first,” McCarthy told them.

McCarthy walked through the party greeting supporters tailed by a team of security guards. McCarthy had a handgun tucked in the back of his pants' waistband.

Masks and physical space were scarce. Pizza and pasta — set out to be served at will — were plentiful.

McCarthy told a Republic reporter and a photographer to remove their masks.

“It’s all a hoax," he said. “Stop spreading fear.”

— Richard Ruelas

6:30 p.m.: Salt River voters weigh votes

The parking lot at the Salt River Pima polling location was nearly empty, aside from a few trucks and a U-Haul van plastered with campaign signs for Lisa Borowsky, a candidate for Scottsdale mayor.

Linda Post, a Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community resident who could point to her house from the exit of the polling location, said her “smooth and fast” experience voting was quite the contrast from previous elections when voters snaked around the building to cast their votes.

“The pandemic made it like that,” she said, adding that she felt more confident voting in-person to ensure her vote is counted.

This election has high stakes, she said. “It means a better way of life.”

As an Indigenous woman, Post said she’s following the presidential race closely.

“He is over there blowing up our relatives and sacred places, which I don’t think is right,” Post said with tears in her eyes in reference to plans to build mines on Native land across the country. “What comes around goes around and I think the spirits will have their way — they always do.”

Linda Gonzalez, a 63-year-old resident of the community, also came to cast her vote in person after an already busy morning helping her five grandchildren start remote learning.

Until recently, she said she had not been very politically active.

“I never used to vote,” she said. “I think this is my third time. I just never really got into it and now I’m getting into politics and trying to learn more.”

She’s ready for change, she said.

“I want to see things happen,” Gonzalez said. “I just pray all the time that God will help us choose the right person for all of us, so we can live in peace.”

— Grace Oldham

6 p.m.: Not many problems

Headed into the final hours of voting, vote centers across Maricopa County remained largely without issue.

In the late afternoon, the ballot printers at All Saints Lutheran Church in north Phoenix stopped working. The county dispatched a technician who corrected the issue in about an hour, Maricopa County Elections Department spokesperson Megan Gilbertson said.

While the vote center was nonoperational, voters were rerouted to a polling place about four miles away.

Unlike in previous elections, voters can cast a ballot at any polling place instead of just their assigned precinct. This allows for a back-up in case of issues like the one at All Saints Lutheran Church, Gilbertson said.

— Jessica Boehm

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5:30 p.m.: Fewer in-person voters

So far, fewer people have opted to cast a ballot in person today than did in the previous two elections.

Maricopa County passed 40,000 ballots cast today, not counting early or mail-in ballots, according to the county elections department.

In 2016, more than 70,000 people voted in person in the county. In 2018, more than 100,000 people did.

The 2020 primary is still a turnout record, though.

The number of mail-in and early ballots cast this year has exceeded the 2016 and 2018 primary elections’ total vote counts, which means people seem to be choosing those options as opposed to traditional in-person, Election Day voting. Population increases also play a role, as do efforts to turn out voters, especially during a presidential election in a state that’s increasingly seen as purple.

Before today, there were over 713,000 ballots cast (both early and mail-ins) in Maricopa County, according to the county recorder’s office.

In 2016, 555,844 ballots were cast overall, including all voting options. In 2018, 699,636 ballots were cast.

— Jessica Boehm and Rachel Leingang

5 p.m.: More mail-in ballots not expected to slow vote count

The pandemic means more people are expected to cast ballots by mail, but Arizona election officials don’t think that will delay vote counts.

Signatures on early ballots that are mailed in late or dropped off at the polls must be verified. Many voters who reporters spoke to Tuesday said they were dropping off their mail-in ballots.

Election officials in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties said they don't expect a delayed count for a few reasons.

A change in state law allowed election officials to start tallying incoming ballots 14 days before Tuesday's primary. Previously, ballot counting could begin seven days before Election Day. The change will allow counties to clear any backlog of mail-in ballots before they begin counting votes cast on Election Day.

Efforts to encourage voters to mail their ballots by the Wednesday before Election Day seemed to have had an effect. The earlier ballots arrive, the earlier they can be processed and counted.

Election systems upgrades and increased staffing in Maricopa County have allowed the early ballots to be processed much faster than in previous years, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said. The changes have prevented "a giant pile-up" of early ballots, he said. 

In Maricopa County, more ballots have been processed prior to Election Day in 2020 than were cast in the 2018 or 2016 primary elections, in part because of a larger number of registered voters this year.

Before today, there were over 713,000 ballots cast (both early and mail-ins) in Maricopa County, according to the county recorder’s office.

— Rob O’Dell

NO DELAYS: Expect more voting by mail this primary election, but that won't delay ballot counting, officials say

4:45 p.m.: Voters see election as most pivotal in their lifetimes

Several voters have described the 2020 election as the most consequential of their lifetimes.

They emphasized the importance of voting to make their voices heard. They mentioned the weight of the presidential election at a pivotal time when elected officials are leading the response to an unprecedented pandemic and there are ongoing protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

Al Campoy, a 73-year-old retired Republican, said COVID-19 hasn’t impacted his vote, which he cast this afternoon at Mesa Baptist Church. But he still sees this election as pivotal.

“The 2020 election means everything – we can’t let Biden get in,” Campoy said, referring to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. “It’d be a nightmare, it’s that simple.”

Catherine Glickman, a 65-year-old independent voter and attorney from Gilbert, called the 2020 election “the most important election in my lifetime.”

Cheri Booth, 49, said the same. She dropped off her ballot along with her son in Chandler.

She said voting this year seems more important than ever.

“In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ve experienced an election that was so important and had so much riding on it, so it’ll be really interesting to see what happens.”

— Grace Oldham and Rachel Leingang

4 p.m.: Canceled Navajo Nation election on same day doesn't appear to be confusing voters

Early reports indicated the Navajo Nation canceling its election, scheduled for Tuesday, did not lead voters to believe the state's primary election the same day was canceled. 

The Navajo Nation Council on July 27 canceled the tribe’s primary election previously scheduled for Aug. 4 over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez earlier this month vetoed the decision but was ultimately overridden by the Council with a 16-4 vote.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office in July received reports of confusion between the tribe’s canceled election and the state’s planned primary, according to office spokeswoman Sophia Solis. The office at the time issued a news release assuring Arizona voters its election was not changed, she said. 

Election officials in Navajo, Apache and Coconino counties — which encompass the Navajo Nation — reported on Tuesday little to no confusion between the two elections. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least one person called the Navajo County elections department to clear up confusion they had about the situation, according to Rayleen Richards, Navajo County elections director.

Each of the three counties’ election officials said they would have a better understanding of the impact the tribe’s canceled election had on Arizona’s primary once ballots were counted. They each anticipated a lower in-person turnout, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while some may possibly be attributed to the tribe’s canceled election.

The counties and the tribe in years past shared polling places in an effort to make in-person voting more convenient, said Patty Hansen, Coconino County recorder.

Coconino County’s busiest polling places Tuesday afternoon were on the Navajo Nation at Tuba City High School and a senior center in Tonalea, Hansen said. She added that the county ran more radio ads this year about the state’s primary election on Tuesday, including ones in Navajo and English for stations that reach the Navajo Nation.

Hansen said about 50% of the county’s early ballots were returned by Tuesday afternoon and that many voters were turning in early ballots at the polls instead of voting in person. She noted that early voting in Tuba City the past two Saturdays experienced a low turnout, likely because of the Navajo Nation’s weekend curfews enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19, she said.

Nez and Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer issued a memorandum Tuesday reminding the tribe's employees registered to vote in Arizona that they have two hours of administrative leave to vote. 

— Chelsea Curtis

3:30 p.m.: Surprise City Hall has highest volume of voters

The voting process has largely been smooth at locations throughout Maricopa County. Most people seemed to be dropping off mail-in ballots, obtained to avoid waiting in line, the pandemic and high temperatures. Fewer were voting traditionally.

Some people reported confusion over where to vote because many traditional voting locations were replaced with larger vote centers to provide for greater physical distancing. 

Surprise City Hall has had the highest volume of voters so far today, said Megan Gilbertson, Maricopa County Elections Department spokesperson.

There was no line at Chandler Fashion Center Tuesday afternoon. The polling location is at a mall next to a laser hair removal place and jewelry store. Most people were in and out in minutes.

Ian Booth, 18, voted for the first time, along with his mother, Cheri Booth. He said he was an independent and is concerned with supporting teachers.

“It was really impressive with how it was set up, and it was really fast in and out despite all of the precautions,” he said. “It made me feel comfortable because everyone has all of the masks and a big helmet.”

Cheri Booth, 49, said they both got their ballots in the mail and had planned to vote via mail but had let the time lapse. Plus, going in person gave Ian the traditional first-time voting experience.

“I wanted him to have that experience of actually going to the polls,” she said. “I think everyone should have that experience at least once.”

At Burton Barr Library in central Phoenix, a steady stream of people were voting Tuesday afternoon.

Laura Smalarz of Phoenix walked from her house to drop off a mail-in ballot at the library to make sure it was counted. It was 109 degrees outside. But she didn’t want to wait in line to vote because of the pandemic.

Ricardo Camacho, a 25-year-old Phoenix resident, said he felt safe voting in person at the library and plans to do the same in November. He likes the feel of in-person voting and said he’s “pretty skeptical” of mail-in voting.

— Grace Oldham, Cleo Krejci, Jessica Boehm and Rachel Leingang

3 p.m.: Here are key races to watch

Primary elections don't capture as much attention as November contests, but they're still important. 

Here's a rundown of the key races we're watching on Tuesday for federal, legislative, county and local offices. 

Three races for federal offices to represent Arizonans have primaries to watch:

  • U.S. Senate: Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., has a primary battle from Glendale businessman Daniel McCarthy that she is widely expected to win before taking on Democrat Mark Kelly in November.
  • 1st Congressional District: The northeastern Arizona district has a pair of primaries worth noting. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz., faces former Flagstaff City Council member Eva Putzova in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, Tiffany Shedd, a lawyer and cotton farmer making her second bid for Congress, and Nolan Reidhead, a lawyer making his first attempt, are vying for the Republican nomination in that district. 
  • 6th Congressional District: There are four Democrats vying for the nomination and the right to challenge U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican. Hiral Tipirneni, a physician who ran in the West Valley-based 8th District in 2018, is running outside her district and has more than $1 million in cash for the race. She is facing former tech executive Anita Malik, the 2018 Democratic nominee; and business owners Karl Gentles and Stephanie Rimmer.

Two county races have crowded primaries: 

  • Maricopa County attorney: Julie Gunnigle, Will Knight and Robert McWhirter are battling for the Democratic nomination, and each has debated how to manage one of the nation's largest prosecution teams at a time of upheaval. Alistair Adel, the Republican who was appointed to the post last year, is unopposed for the Republican nomination.
  • Maricopa County sheriff: Republican voters in the county will sort through the four sheriff candidates hoping to challenge Democrat Paul Penzone in November. Joe Arpaio, the man who held the job for six terms before losing to Penzone in 2016, is running again, as is his former deputy, Jerry Sheridan. Mike Crawford and Lehland Burton are also running. 

Every seat in the Arizona Legislature is on the ballot this year but, in districts that tend to lean far toward one party or another, many of these races will be decided in the primary. Here are the legislative primaries we're watching

  • District 15: Rep. Nancy Barto is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Heather Carter in what has turned into an intense, expensive race. Barto accuses Carter of being too liberal. To be sure, Carter annoyed Republicans last year by helping hold up passage of the budget and she has worked with Democrats on issues such as supporting LGBT rights. But she accuses Barto of being too conservative — a zealot on issues like vaccination and education.
  • District 27: Former legislator Catherine Miranda is angling for a comeback. She is running for one of the House seats representing this south Phoenix district currently held by Democratic Reps. Reginald Bolding and Diego Rodriguez. But they are running to the left and argue she is too conservative, having endorsed Gov. Doug Ducey in 2014 and broken with Democrats on abortion legislation.
  • District 26: A slate of candidates touting itself as entirely Millennial, publicly funded and very much on the left accuses business groups of backing their opponents in this Democratic primary.
  • District 23: Backed by conservatives, lawyer Alexander Kolodin is challenging Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita. And he has seized on the emergence a few months ago of sworn testimony by a Capitol lobbyist who said she felt harassed and intimidated by Ugenti-Rita and her future husband after receiving sexually explicit photos of the couple.
  • District 8: Republican Rep. David Cook is seeking reelection while fresh from an ethics investigation. Vouching for him is a lobbyist who has insisted to voters that they did not have an affair. He faces newcomer Neal Carter and state Sen. Frank Pratt.

Gilbert and Scottsdale voters will select new mayors in a process kicking off an election with a string of candidates in both communities. Here are the local contests we're watching: 

  • Scottsdale mayor: Five candidates hope to replace Mayor Jim Lane, who has hit the city's three-term limit. Two mayoral candidates, Bob Littlefield and David Ortega, participated in a successful effort to put Southbridge II on the ballot. Council members Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte, both running for mayor, had voted for the project. A fifth mayoral candidate, Lisa Borowsky, also mentioned the contentious project as one of the reasons she got in the race.
  • Gilbert mayor: Mayor Jenn Daniels did not seek reelection, and four candidates are competing for the post. Town Council member Brigette Peterson is running, as are Lynne King Smith, Matt Nielsen and write-in candidate Joshua Lipscomb.
  • Other mayoral and council seats across metro Phoenix also are up for grabs. Two-way races for mayor will play out in Mesa, Glendale, Surprise and Cave Creek, with uncontested mayoral races in Avondale, Buckeye, Carefree, Paradise Valley and Tolleson.

— Andrew Oxford, Ronald J. Hansen, Lorraine Longhi and Alison Steinbach

2 p.m.: Voters turn out — safely

Voters young and old came out in person Tuesday to cast their ballots. They reported a safe experience, with precautions taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of 1 p.m., 20,500 people had voted in person, according to the Maricopa County Recorder's Office. 

Voters mentioned various issues that are getting them out to cast a ballot this year: the presidential race, systemic racism and Black Lives Matter, political corruption, high-profile Arizona races such as the U.S. Senate and the Maricopa County sheriff, and local races in cities across the Valley. 

Some expressed issues that haven't made the main stage so far, such as roads.

Sarah Sandling, 61, of Glendale, said she will be voting for Republicans down the ballot come November. She’s strongly supportive of President Donald Trump. She says she’s also concerned about local elections in Glendale.

She’s been upset that spending on roads always seems to come last minute and construction primarily occurs in the summer.

“They work on it during the busiest and hottest part of the day,” she said. “It should be done at night.” 

Colton Davis, 19, of Peoria, says this is his second time voting in an election. He’s a registered independent and said he felt comfortable voting in the Arrowhead Towne Center.

“It seemed socially distanced and everyone had masks on,” he said.

Karen Munoz, 18, was voting for the first time Tuesday at David Crockett Elementary School. 

“I feel good honestly. I’ve been waiting to vote,” Munoz said. “There’s a lot of problems we’re facing right now and I want to vote for people who I feel like can fix those problems or try to fix them.” 

Others have a more seasoned process for Election Day. For Michael White, that includes holding onto his early ballot until Election Day. The 42-year-old from Peoria dropped off his early ballot Tuesday at the Arrowhead Towne Center in Glendale. 

“I’ve been researching what the county recorder is doing and the precautions. Everyone has their mask on and I think it’s a safe process,” White said.

White said that some of the “policy failures from the top down” in handling the COVID-19 pandemic impacted his voting preferences.

“But in general," he added, "I don’t think anyone could be prepared for this.”

— Sasha Hupka, Emilly Davis, Jessica Boehm and Rachel Leingang

12:45 p.m.: Pence hosting election day 'tele-rally' with supporters

Vice President Mike Pence will hold a "tele-rally" with supporters at 2:30 p.m. Arizona time.

A voice mail left yesterday to an individual by the Trump reelection campaign advertised the event, which is closed to reporters. The voicemail said Pence would hold a "special, live, free tele-rally in Arizona" and that potential attendees would be called in between 2:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to join. 

Arizona Democrats pounced on news of the virtual rally, with a state party spokesman saying in a written statement that nothing Pence says at Tuesday's rally — or his planned trip to Arizona next week — "will change the fact that his boss's failed pandemic response has tanked our economy and forced millions of Arizonans out of work."

With fewer than 100 days remaining before the November elections, various polls show Biden leading Trump in Arizona and the electoral map more broadly. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

12 p.m. Mark Kelly rallies supporters

On a Zoom call with supporters, Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly told supporters the country is "experiencing a crisis of leadership" at one of its most critical moments. 

The public health crisis, coupled with the economic fallout, is different than anything the U.S. has faced before, he said. Kelly is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Senate and is expected to face incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., in November. 

During a brief appearance with supporters, Kelly said he was alarmed that lawmakers in Washington remain gridlocked over the next COVID-19 relief package. 

"It's because we're too focused on politics and not on people, the people that this affects," he said. "What we need is some independent leadership that's going to make decisions based on science and data and facts and not on the politics." 

If the country emerges from the pandemic successfully, Kelly said he hopes to work across the aisle to tackle reforms on health care, the economy, criminal justice, and protections for young immigrants brought to this country as small kids. 

Kelly has campaign events scheduled throughout the day, culminating in a virtual primary election night rally at 7 p.m., when the polls close. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

10:30 a.m.: Arizona party chairs prepare to rally voters; Kelli Ward's Twitter account reinstated

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and Arizona Democratic Chair Felecia Rotellini planned to hit up watch parties Tuesday evening to rally voters. 

Ward will attend the parties in person and virtually while Rotellini is opting for virtual attendance only.

Rotellini is scheduled to make an appearance at Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly’s virtual event at 7 p.m.

In the meantime, Democratic staffers have been plucking through their losses at their headquarters in central Phoenix, which was set on fire by a disgruntled Democrat. Team members have been going into what remains of the building to identify the political memorabilia that is salvageable. Those items will be put in storage.

Twitter reinstated the functions on Ward’s account ahead of Tuesday’s elections after she took down a post that the social media giant said spread misleading and “potentially harmful” information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ward, a physician, had shared the viral video of a group of physicians making false and misleading comments about the illness. Ward eventually removed the tweet, and her account was fully reinstated, said party spokesman Zachery Henry.

Ward had been upset that her account’s functions had been limited with fewer than 100 days to the November election to go.

On Tuesday, she had retweeted a post against “leftism.”

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

10 a.m.: Brewer warns of 'anarchy' if Democrats take White House

In an opinion column published by the Scottsdale Independent ahead of Tuesday's election, former Gov. Jan Brewer warned of a disastrous outcome if Americans elect Democratic Vice President Joe Biden to the White House. 

Brewer, a Republican surrogate for Trump, wrote the “insanity we’re seeing in the Pacific Northwest would have free reign” to spread across the U.S. under a Biden administration, a reference to the ongoing unrest in Seattle and Portland. The article carried the headline: “West Coast anarchy could happen in Arizona if we don’t stand against it.”

Brewer wrote, “The fact is that the forces responsible for the violence and disorder on the West Coast are not confined there by any magical force — water follows the path of least resistance, and the tidal wave of radicalism will submerge any city that does not maintain a firm commitment to public safety and the rule of law. Even then, the federal government will sometimes have to step in when local resources prove insufficient.

“As Arizonans are well aware, California is only a bus ride away. Without President Trump in the White House, there’s no reason the anarchy afflicting the West Coast can’t happen here.”

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

9 a.m.: Voters afraid of mail-in voting

Echoing some of President Donald Trump's concerns about the security of mail-in voting, several Arizona voters said they opted to vote in person because they don't necessarily trust the U.S. Postal Service or election workers. 

Trump has claimed that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud, even though evidence from past elections suggests that is not the case. 

Dana Green, 56, a dog groomer from Peoria, doesn't trust mail-in voting. Instead, she walked her early ballot into a voting location at the Arrowhead Towne Center.

“I don’t feel very safe with the mail,” she said. “I don’t know who’s going to get into what I send so I feel safer putting it in the box myself.”

Gloria Snyder, 63, of Peoria, said she didn't feel like her vote would be safe unless she cast it in person. 

“We trust voting in person,” she said, wearing a mask supporting Trump.

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Democratic candidate Mark Kelly, the major candidates in the U.S. Senate race, have already voted by mail. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Sasha Hupka 

8:30 a.m.: Vice President Mike Pence coming to town Aug. 11

Vice President Mike Pence will make another appearance in Arizona a week from now, on Tuesday, Aug. 11. This trip was expected by GOP activists and operatives and follows his brief appearance late last month, where he met with Gov. Doug Ducey and public health officials about Arizona's COVID-19 numbers. 

In Tucson, Pence will accept the endorsement of the Arizona Police Association, which represents 47 member agencies. He will speak about reinforcing the Trump administration’s support of law enforcement "and their unwavering commitment to never defund the police."

Pence will then travel to Mesa, where he will participate in a "Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition" event. He will return to Washington D.C. later that night. 

This trip is one of many anticipated through November, as Trump and Pence work to maintain their ground in Arizona, a long-red state whose hues are turning purple.

Arizona is among the few states considered up for grabs. Democrat Vice President Joe Biden has not made an appearance in the state, but his team is holding virtual events with local Democrats and is operating alongside the Arizona Democratic Party because campaigns were largely sidelined for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

8:15 a.m.: Voters mask up to cast ballots 

Many masked up, more than 4,000 voters across Maricopa County hit voting sites to cast their ballots in person as of 8 a.m., according to data by county elections officials.

a man standing on a sidewalk: Steve Petrie arrives to drop off his ballot on Aug. 4, 2020, at the Tempe History Museum polling place. © Mark Henle, Mark Henle/The Republic Steve Petrie arrives to drop off his ballot on Aug. 4, 2020, at the Tempe History Museum polling place.

BreAnne Szilagyi, a mom of two sons from Surprise, was among the steady stream of voters who showed up in person against the background of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. She said she felt safe voting.

Szilagyi decided to drop off her ballot in person Tuesday even though she requested an early ballot.

“I like to do my early ballot, but I like to know what’s going on up to the time of voting day.” She said elected officials' response "to the pandemic impacted at least one of my votes.” She declined to share which vote that was.

Robert Larson, who voted at a Scottsdale Plaza voting location, said he decided against voting by mail and won’t be doing it in the fall either because he doesn’t trust the early voting system.

“If I thought I could do it in the mail I probably would, but there could be some fraud involved there,” Larson said. “If you just go in and show your ID, you do it and put it in the thing, I think you’re probably safer that way. I would feel that’s probably the best way to do it.”

Larson has been a Scottsdale resident for more than 20 years. He said this election is “absolutely” more important than in previous years.

“It’s so important this time, because what way do you want it to go?” Larson said. “Our country’s in pretty bad shape right now, we’re all so divided as to how we feel, it’s really tough.”

Phoenix residents Pat and Florence Smith, both Republicans, showed up around 6 a.m., to vote at a polling center at David Crockett Elementary School. It was their first time at that location — they normally vote at a church close to their house, but that changed because of COVID-19.

Other than having to drive a few miles further and wearing gloves and a face mask, Florence Smith said voting wasn’t much different than usual years.

“Everything went really smooth, they seem to have it all under control,” she said.

The Smiths said they will be voting in-person again in November because they mistrust the early voting process, which seems “fishy" to them.

“We like to vote in-person,” Pat Smith said.

But voting was especially important to them this year, he said, because they feared fewer people would be willing to vote this year.

“My thought is there will be more people say, 'Oh I’m not going near there, there’s too much chance of getting infected.' So there could be less turnout, but I could be wrong,” Pat Smith said.

Apart from Tuesday's primary voters, more than 12,000 voters cast their ballots in person during early voting and emergency voting, during a cycle in which Maricopa County has seen historic turnout for a primary election. 

More than 713,000 Maricopa County voters cast a ballot this election. In 2018, 699,636 people voted. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Sasha Hupka, and Emilly Davis

7:30 a.m.: McSally with Trump for bill signing

Election day looks a lot different when you’re the incumbent U.S. senator.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally is expected to win her primary against Glendale businessman Daniel McCarthy by a large margin. She has always downplayed McCarthy’s challenge to the right and today is no exception.

While he was making a last-minute pitch to voters that McSally isn’t conservative enough, she was with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House for the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act — and was among the senators who got a shout-out from the president for her work on the bill.

The event began at 7:30 a.m. Arizona time.

The visual of McSally working in Washington is a sharp contrast to McCarthy’s last-minute appeals to supporters on Facebook to help him pull off a “miracle.” 

In a statement to The Arizona Republic, McSally said the legislation was a victory for the state and its diverse landscapes. 

"I am pleased to join President Trump for the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, which marks a new era of restoration for our crown jewel national parks, plus expanded access and better upkeep of other federal lands for multiple recreational use," she said. "Our bill, which I helped champion, will create over 100,000 jobs nationwide and will clear the massive maintenance backlog on our lands. It will also inject millions of dollars into rural communities who need assistance now more than ever due to the pandemic. I look forward to seeing the incredible impact this makes on our state.”

Later in the day, McSally was scheduled to attend meetings involving the next COVID-19 relief package, vote to confirm the deputy secretary of energy, and participate in constituent calls and video meetings with health care professionals and business leaders. 

Mark Kelly, the retired NASA astronaut and Democratic Senate candidate, is running uncontested. He has virtual get-out-the-vote events scheduled throughout the day and a live, virtual primary election night event starting at 7 p.m. when polls close.

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

7 a.m.: Technicians dispatched to Gilbert location

Problems arose early Tuesday at the American Leadership Academy voting location in Gilbert.

Poll workers there had issues entering a secure passcode to turn on the precinct's tabulators, which count votes. The problems led to some confusion among voters. 

Maricopa County election workers dispatched technicians to the voting site at 5:45 a.m., said Megan Gilbertson, spokeswoman for the Elections Department. 

Voters were still able to check in at 6 a.m. and cast ballots, she said.

Until the problem was fixed by technicians, ballots were placed in a secure door located on the side of the machine that counts ballots. After the polls close, a bipartisan team of poll workers will run those ballots through the machine to be counted.

Gilbertson said the machine was running again by 7 a.m. and that voters were still able to vote during that time. Nearly 50 people had cast their ballots as of 7:15 a.m., she said. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

a person standing in front of a building: Kory Skelton (left) and Danielle Kirksey set up voter shade tents on Aug. 4, 2020, at the Tempe History Museum polling place. © Mark Henle/The Republic Kory Skelton (left) and Danielle Kirksey set up voter shade tents on Aug. 4, 2020, at the Tempe History Museum polling place.

6:45 a.m.: County voter website has problems

A Maricopa County website called "Be Ballot Ready" was down briefly early Tuesday morning. The site allows voters to check the status of their early ballot and provides personalized dashboards for voters, such as nearby voting locations and which candidates appear on their ballots. 

The issue affected voters' ability to track their early ballot status and was quickly resolved, said Yessica del Rincón, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Elections Department. The problem lasted no more than 10 minutes, she said. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

6:30 a.m.: What's at stake in this election?

From the top of the ticket on down, voters will advance their nominees for the closely watched U.S. Senate special election, the Scottsdale-based GOP-leaning 6th Congressional District, and several tight statehouse races that could swing one or both of the chambers blue. 

In the race for the U.S. Senate seat, retired Democrat Mark Kelly is running uncontested for his party's nomination. Republican Sen. Martha McSally is defending her seat against Glendale businessman Daniel McCarthy, who is challenging her from the right. 

She is expected to win the race handily but all eyes are on how she performs among Republicans as she heads into one of the toughest general election races in the nation. Her performance among GOP voters in 2018 resulted in a loss to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema two years ago. 

Other key races to be decided are for the Republican nomination for Maricopa County sheriff, the Democratic nomination for Maricopa County attorney and nonpartisan mayor's races in the communities of Scottsdale, Glendale, Gilbert and Surprise.

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

6 a.m.: Polls open on Election Day

Although the state's highest-profile races won't get dramatic until November, there's plenty to pay attention to in this primary election, unfolding during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Arizona is on track for a higher-than-average turnout because of early voting.

Maricopa County has 99 in-person voting locations in operation Tuesday. The centers are set up so residents can vote in a physically distanced manner.

The county is conducting an all vote-center election, meaning voters can cast a ballot at any location and not only at their assigned precinct.

Find your nearest vote center on the Maricopa County Elections Department website, locations.maricopa.vote, or by calling 602-506-1511.

The website also will show wait times at each location in real time.

Will the deadly pandemic, which has sickened nearly 180,000 people in the state and claimed the lives of 3,779 Arizonans, affect Election Day turnout?

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona election updates: Sen. McSally wins primary, Maricopa County sheriff’s race tight

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