Just one more day, you're thinking, and then it will all be over.
Sorry folks, but it probably won't. Because in Arizona, Election Day can last a week.
A trip back to the 2012 election
There were long lines at some polling places -- largely, but not only, in Latino areas. Many voters were being told to vote provisional ballots, and they didn’t understand why.
By the end of Election Night 2012, there were 631,274 uncounted ballots statewide -- one of every four ballots cast. Almost half of those ballots were in Maricopa County -- 293,000 -- one of every five ballots cast here.
A huge number of voters dropped off their early ballots at the polls on Election Day -- those don't get counted the same day. There was an even larger number of provisional ballots, filed by voters who, for whatever reason, needed to provide more information on their voting status.
The same scenario is likely to play out again Tuesday.
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell told 12 News Monday there would be more than 200,000 uncounted ballots when the counting stops Tuesday night.
"You're looking at at least 10 days, if not more, to finish up the election entirely," Purcell said
What that means
We expect several close races, for president, Maricopa County sheriff, Prop 205 to legalize marijuana, possibly county recorder and county attorney and key state Senate races. Those races might not be called Tuesday night. The full ballot count could go on through the weekend and into next week.
Why does this keep happening?
There are many reasons.
More people voting: The forecast is for a record number of Arizona voters to cast ballots in a presidential election, largely because there are 460,000 more registered voters this year (3.58 million) than in 2012.
The highest voter turnout in the last 20 years was 78 percent in 2008, when President Obama was elected, the lowest was 64 percent in 1996, when President Bill Clinton won re-election. It’s not clear whether we will set a record this year.
Fewer places to vote: This isn’t the 70 percent cut we saw during the March presidential primary. But all Arizona counties have been cutting polling places as the popularity of mail-in ballots grows.
The Maricopa County recorder’s office says there are 724 polling places for this election. But data from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington, D.C., shows there are only 644 physical locations, part of a statewide trend of cutting polling places.
Scott Simpson, of the Leadership Conference, says the county lists several polling places at the same address.
How can counties do this?
2016 is the first presidential election year that Arizona does not have to get the U.S. Department of Justice to preclear significant changes in election law or procedures (which is why we got the ban on ballot collecting and the huge cut in primary polling places).
By the way, the Justice Department will have election monitors in Maricopa and Navajo counties on Election Day.
Don’t mail-in ballots lower Election Day voting?
More voters are indeed using mail-in ballots as the number of voters grows. But that doesn’t mean fewer ballots will be cast on Election Day. About 61 percent of the projected total ballots cast statewide have already been cast by mail, according to data compiled by Garrett Archer, of the Arizona secretary of state’s office. That number is typical for an election.
Ban on ballot collecting
The Legislature this year made it a felony for third parties to collect early ballots and deliver them to the recorder’s office. (There was a brief 18-hour window over the weekend for ballot collection, but the U.S. Supreme Court slammed it shut.)
Ballot collecting was a way for voter-registration groups to ensure the people they registered to vote actually cast a ballot. Without ballot collecting, those voters either cast early ballots or, just as likely, show up at the polls to drop them off.
Here's why Election Day could be smoother
The county recorder's office is working under a "Wait Time Reduction Plan" that resulted from a lawsuit filed after the hours-long waits during the March presidential primary. It spells out staffing at polling places and other requirements.
...And keep this in mind: There are many ways things can and will go wrong because we are all human. Many voters cast ballots only once every four years. They might forget key details about their voting status. Many other voters will be casting a ballot for the first time. It can be confusing. Many poll workers are doing this job for the first time. Their level of expertise and preparation differs.
If you have problems voting on Election Day
Maricopa County Elections Department at 602-506-1511
Arizona Advocacy Network at 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683)
DOJ Civil Rights Division for possible violations of federal voting rights laws 800-253-3931