Donald Trump, a man whose signature could be described as a cry for help, is now yelling about other people’s signatures—specifically those of Arizona voters.
Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
A reasonable person may be asking themselves: Huh?
Here’s how to make sense of Trump’s incomprehensible nonsense. The unsupported allegation—apparently prompted by a Fox News segment—is plainly a reaction to the fact that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema recently moved into the lead over Republican Martha McSally in a U.S. Senate race that remains entirely too close to call.
Arizona officials are still counting ballots, and expect to continue well into next week. As the Associated Press explains, that is pretty much standard operating procedure for the state, which historically takes at least a week to count ballots. The time-suck is a result of two things: Most Arizona voters cast ballots by mail, which take longer to count; and the state’s largest county, Maricopa, is using a computer system from the 1980s that can only process up to 75,000 ballots a day. Trump, however, sees a Republican losing and feels compelled to cry foul.
The specific issue of the [*clears throat*] SIGNATURES is a relatively small part of the equation. Arizona law requires the mail-in ballots to be signed and sealed, and election officials then have the unenviably task of matching each signature to the one they have on file before they even open the envelope. If the signature doesn’t match, officials then try to contact the voter to resolve the issue, a process known as “curing.” Arizona Republicans filed a lawsuit earlier this week over how long officials have to complete that process, which is what elevated this little-known vote-counting wrinkle to the level of Fox News coverage and then, predictably, the president’s Twitter feed.
According to the AP, “it appears that less than 1 percent of all ballots are counted after this process.” There were an estimated 2.3 million votes cast in the state, so that would mean we’re talking about roughly 23,000 ballots at most. Maricopa County officials say they have a total of about 350,000 ballots that still need processing. Sinema currently leads McSally by a little more than 11,000 votes out of more than 1.9 million that have been counted.
It’s entirely possible that McSally will move back into the lead before this is over. At the same time, however, it seems entirely impossible that we’ve heard the last from Trump about this.