- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Last-minute ballots that have typically favored Democrats helped some Arizona Republican candidates and conservative causes win after Election Night this year.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports (https://bit.ly/2fEvuI0) that Republican leads grew in several races after November 8 as officials counted vote-by-mail, or early ballots, turned in at election offices and polls at the last moment.

Those ballots typically favor Democrats, who have in the past used vigorous get out the vote campaigns that included offers to deliver ballots to post offices or election headquarters on behalf of voters.

The tactic of so-called “ballot harvesting” was banned by the Arizona Legislature earlier this year, and that may have hurt Democratic voter turnout this time.

But campaign consultants say Republicans benefited more from a last-minute push by Republican voters, with many holding onto their ballots as long as they possible before delivering them.

In the Legislative District 28 Senate race, Democratic Rep. Eric Meyer of Paradise Valley saw his election night lead evaporate as Republican Rep. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix slowly added to her lead with each day of ballot count updates from election officials.

Initially, unofficial ballot counts showed Meyer leading with roughly 51 percent of the vote. Brophy McGee took the lead before the night was over, with just over 50 percent of the vote.

Late ballot counts padded that lead almost daily until election officials finished counting ballots on November 18. Meyer eventually lost by 2,312 votes.

“Usually, because we have a better ground game and drive more of our late ballots in, we tend to pick up, and that’s historically what I’ve been used to,” Meyer said. “Every other race I’ve won, I was the one that was behind and then came back over the course of the next week or so.”

Meyer’s chances waned when Republicans caught up to the Democrats’ initial early voting advantage, according to campaign consultant Chuck Coughlin, who said Republicans were holding onto their ballots far longer than usual due to the top of the ticket.

Republican voters who were considering voting against President-elect Donald Trump decided to vote with their base after all, he said.

Meyer suspects the presidential election swayed some voters in his race.

But Brophy McGee was skeptical that Trump had an impact on the race in the legislative district, where she said voters take a nuanced approach when casting their ballots.

“I don’t think this is the kind of district where you can make those assumptions,” she said.

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, https://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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