Table of Contents


General State Info

  • Total # of Delegates: 11
  • Total Voting Eligible Population: 5,189,000
  • Governor: Republican
  • State House: Republican
  • State Senate: Republican

State of the Race

RCP Polling Average (10/25-11/1): Biden 47.9% – Trump 47%

Cook Political Report Rating: Lean Democrat

FiveThirtyEight Forecast (as of 11/3): Biden “slightly favored” to win AZ

Early Voting Key Facts

  • Early Voting Options: Early Voting (In Person), Absentee by Mail
  • Early Voting Dates
    • Begin: 26 days before election 
    • End: Friday before the election
  • Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing Laws
    • Processing: 14 days before Election Day.
    • Counting:  Tallying can begin 14 days before Election Day, but results may not be released before all precincts are reporting or one hour after the closing of polls on Election Day. Releasing information earlier is a felony.
  • Deadline to Receive Absentee/Mailed Ballots: Election Day (by 7 p.m.)
  • Accept Postmarked Ballots that Arrive After Election Day?: No
  • Absentee/Mail Ballot Signature Requirement:  Yes, ballot must be signed and match the signature on file.
  • “Curing” Mail Ballots: YES; Voters have until the fifth business day after an election to correct a signature
  • RECOUNT: An automatic recount is trigged if margin of victory is .1% or less (16-661)
    • According to Slate: “Unlike in other states, candidates and voters are unable to directly request recounts [in AZ]. If, however, the Trump campaign presses allegations of voter fraud, that could push the state attorney general to take the issue to the courts. If the recount is approved, the secretary of state will order the ballots to be recounted on an automatic tabulating system. For close margin recounts, 5 percent of the precincts will be randomly chosen for a hand-count. There is no set deadline for the recount to be completed”

Early Vote & General FAQ

  • How has Arizona voted in recent Presidential Elections?
  • What happened in the 2016 Presidential Election? 
  • Does it take longer to process mail-in ballots compared to in-person ballots (via early voting or on Election Day)?
    • It will take longer to process mail-in ballots than in-person ballots, but Arizona statutes permit the processing and tallying of ballots to begin two weeks before the election, so it is likely that many of the mail-in ballots will be counted before many of the in-person, Election Day, ballots.
  • Is Arizona well-equipped to handle the surge in mail-in ballots for the upcoming election?
    • Arizona is well-equipped to handle the surge in mail-in ballots. Arizona had over 1.6 million ballots in 2016 and has state statutes that are very conducive to timely processing and counting of the ballots, so they are likely to be very capable of handling the increased quantity of mail-in ballots.
  • What are some plausible, non-malicious voting related causes of delay that might prevent Arizona from calling the race on election night?
    • Arizona seems to be well positioned . But the past provides reason for concern.
      • For example, it took them 5.8 days to complete the tallying of votes in the primaries this year.
      • In 2018, it took almost a week to declare Krysten Sinema the winner in AZ’s closely contested US Senate race.
      • Additionally, in 2012, it took two weeks to complete all of the counting. Thus, although it seems that Arizona has done everything it can to position itself to avoid any delay, there’s no way to definitively rule it out. 
    • However, there is reason to be optimistic about a more efficient outcome in 2020 — according to the Washington Post: “the state allows mail ballots to be counted before Election Day, which means voters can expect to see more advanced results on election night, if everything goes according to plan. The process can start earlier than it did in 2018 [and] at least one major county has also upgraded its equipment”
  • What are key political and elections officials/experts saying about their expectations for election night?
    •  The New York Times notes that “Of all the battleground states, none is expected to have as smooth an election as is Arizona” and reports that “officials expect will allow the vast majority of the voting results to be known on election night.”
    • However, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs cautions those who expect final tallies within  “a day or two” to “think again” because of the potential for delay that is built into any process of this magnitude and the laws regarding acceptance of ballots that do not arrive until after the polls close.

Election Night Questions

  • What Type of Ballots Will be Counted First?
    • Early votes (in-person and mail ballots arriving before Election Day)
      • In an interview with the Phoenix New Times, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes discussed the substantive make up of the initial returns on election night (and after):
        • “[The] first big reporting number [on election night] includes as many votes as possible. That 8:00 p.m. number that comes out an hour after polls close includes all the early ballots that we tabulated before election day. If voters want to be part of that first big number, they need to vote early. I expect we’ll be somewhere near 85 percent of all ballots will be cast as early ballots, maybe even higher. From 9:00 p.m. after, we start reporting out the vote center numbers through the evening. That’s the second bucket [of votes], that’s going to be a much smaller percentage of the total than that 8:00 p.m. number. And then we will have received a lot of early votes on Election Day, so those late early votes are going to have to be signature verified, processed and tabulated; those will be the ones that will be reported out on Thursday, Friday after election day.”
  • Will there be a: Red Mirage, Blue Mirage, No Mirage?
    • In AZ, there will most likely be an initial lead for the Dems when the first returns come in. However, given that early in person voting — which has proven to be a far less polarizing of a voting option compared to by mail or election day voting this cycle — will make up a portion of this initial tally, there won’t be a “severe” blue mirage. But look for an initial Biden lead that will then narrow when election day votes follow an hour or so later. Late arriving absentee ballots that are featured in post election day returns will skew for Biden, but likely not by a wide margin.
  • Who will get more early votes?
    • Historically, Republicans have slightly outpaced Democrats in terms of early voting in Arizona. However, given this year’s trend of Democrats increasingly voting early/by mail and the increased willingness of registered Republicans to vote for Vice President Biden, he will likely have a lead in the early votes. 
  • Who will get more votes on election day?
    • The candidate who gets more voted on election day will likely be the candidate who receives the majority of the votes from voters registered as “Independent”. Currently, polling indicates that this group will favor Vice President Biden, but it should be incredibly close.
  • Will Arizona be able to call the race on election night?
    • Our model predicts that only about 90% of the vote will be counted by election night. With such a high percentage of registered Independents, the race may be called if they overwhelmingly lean toward one candidate, but likely will not if there is an even split.

Mail Ballots Returned and Accepted by Party Registration

PartyReturned BallotsPercentRequested BallotsReturn Rate
Minor/No Party Affiliation587,45525.5986,95159.5
Data as of 10/30. Source:

Note: Graphic based on TargetSmart’s “Modeled” data — party affiliation derived from internal TargetSmart modeling.

Early Vote Comparison: 2016

2016 Mail-In Vote
Mail in ballots returned: 1,661,874
% Total Early Vote by Party Affiliation
Democrat — 33.6% (554,910)
Republican — 40.0% (659,600)
Independent/Other— 26.4% (435,117)