PHOENIX - Maricopa County submitted an estimated 69,000 counted ballots to the state at 5 p.m. Saturday. The race in the national spotlight for Sen. Jeff Flake's seat in the U.S. Senate is inching closer to closure.

Pima County also made a submission of an estimated 27,000 counted ballots about 30 minutes before Maricopa County posted to the state.

Prior to Pima County's submission, Democrat candidate Krysten Sinema held about a 20,000-vote lead over Republican Martha McSally. 

After Pima County posted to the state, Sinema's lead grew to about 24,000 votes over McSally. 

After Maricopa County posted to the state, Sinema's lead grew again to 28,688 votes. 

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On Friday, Maricopa County submitted 80,000 counted ballots to the state at 5 p.m., which took Sinema's lead from 9,500 votes to a lead of more than 21,000 votes. 

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Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said the county has 190,000 ballots left to process and the next update will come Sunday at 5 p.m.

About 268,000 ballots statewide still need to be processed. 

Coconino County posted to the state later on Saturday evening and Sinema's lead is now just under 30,000 votes.

“Today our vote total grew at a greater rate than expected, and we expanded our vote margins in rural areas counting mail-in ballots dropped off on election day," McSally campaign CEO Jim Bognet said. "The latest release provides compelling evidence that the remaining uncounted ballots are favorable to Martha. And we will continue our effort to make sure all lawful ballots are counted."

"Make no mistake: this was an incredibly disappointing day for Martha McSally," Sinema campaign CEO Andrew Piatt said. "Her meager gains in the rural counties were totally wiped out by Kyrsten’s continued strong performance in Maricopa County and across the state. Here's where things stand: McSally gained 47,837 votes and Kyrsten gained 57,466 votes to grow her lead to 29,832 votes or 1.41 percent. McSally can hope for a miracle tomorrow night but the data show it won't happen."