Opinion: Election Day could be with us for weeks

As the Nov. 8 General Election draws near, you may want a prediction about the outcome. Here’s mine – and it’s a pretty safe bet.

In the major races drawing hundreds of millions of dollars and the national spotlight, we aren’t going to know anything definitive on the night of Nov. 8. And likely not for days or weeks afterward.

You’ll hear a lot of screaming that this wait is evidence there’s election rigging afoot – despite zero credible evidence of any cheating.

Ironically, much of the reason it will take days on end to tabulate our ballots traces back to the very same election deniers who bleat constantly about cheating. Let me explain.

It has become fashionable among the MAGA elite, including President Trump, to tell their people – even those who receive an early ballot in the mail – to hold that ballot until Election Day, then turn it in. As Trump put it recently, “it’s much harder for them to cheat that way.”

State Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Pluto, told One America News Network a few days ago, “We need to vote on the last day, the day of Election Day, so they don’t know how much to cheat by.”

There will likely be a few hundred thousand of these ballots statewide, known in the business as “late early’s.” Per the law, each “late early” must have the signature verified by a human being before being counted.

That can’t start until after Election Night, leading to days of counting – and lots of screaming, especially if a Republican candidate is trailing and drawing nearer by the day.

Jen Marson, executive director of the Arizona Association of Counties, is one of the state’s foremost elections experts. A fierce independent and a certified elections officer, Marson works with county election officials statewide. She, too, sees massive amounts of “late early’s” as a potential issue.

“The late early votes count just as much as any other vote and sometimes they turn the tide of what was reported on Election Day,” says Marson. “And that’s when people lose their minds.”

Marson warns some races will last into December if they’re close enough to trigger a recount – 1/2 of one percent between the top two candidates or between the yes and no sides on ballot measures. Such a recount can’t even begin until Dec. 5, says Marson.

“If the governor’s office has to be recounted, it’s going to be mid to late December before we know the results,” she explains.

Can you imagine? We already have candidates saying they won’t accept the results unless they win – thanks, Kari Lake – and armed morons in camo camped outside a ballot dropbox in Mesa.

Let the hard feelings simmer for a few weeks, and add in fantasies about ballot mules and rigged voting machines. Another prediction: Chances are slim we make it through this election without at least one weapon fired in anger.

All this over fantasies of cheating that have never, ever come true. Heck, half of you reading this column think I’m part of the cabal of cheaters trying to persuade you to allow yourself to be cheated.

Whatever happens in this election – and I don’t care who you vote for, though I do hope you vote – I agree with my friend, Jen.

“There has never been any law enforcement investigation, “fraudit,” audit, people looking (that has uncovered widespread cheating),” says Marson. “Whoever has come to look at whatever machines in any county, they have found no evidence of widespread cheating or fraud or hacking. None of it.”

Settle in, friends, for a doozy of a wait. Unless I’m dead wrong – and I pray

I am – Election 2022 will be with us for a while.