Arizona’s Maricopa County failed to start counting 290,000 early ballots cast on Election Day

An election worker arrives with ballots Wednesday inside the Maricopa County Recorders office in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

Key races to determine Senate control in Arizona and Nevada have yet to be called as the two states rush to count hundreds of thousands of ballots that have yet to be processed.

It may still be hours — or days — before enough ballots are counted in those states to determine who won the Senate. There are also many uncalled congressional races that will determine what the House will look like when the new Congress is seated.

The unofficial results — and continued uncertainty over who will control Congress next year — did not deter Republican apprehension over the election results, where an expected Republican wave never materialized.

Here’s what you need to know as the countdown continues:

Where things stand in Arizona and Nevada — and why it’s taking so long to count ballots: The main reason for the delay is how each state handles ballots outside of those dropped off at polls on Election Day, including early votes and mail-in ballots.

In Arizona, for example, there are approximately 600,000 ballots left to count. The majority of those, about 400,000 ballots, are in Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state that includes Phoenix.

Of those ballots, about 290,000 were cast at polling centers on Election Day, Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, told CNN on Thursday. These ballots must be processed before they can be counted, resulting in a delay in tabulation.

In addition, the county has approximately 17,000 ballots that attempted to be counted on Election Day but were not read by the tabulator due to a printing error, and these ballots must also be accounts.

In Nevada, state law allows mail-in ballots to be received through Saturday, as long as they are postmarked before Election Day. This means that counties still receive ballots to count.

Clark County, the largest in the state that includes Las Vegas, received more than 12,000 stamped ballots from the Post Office on Wednesday, Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria said.

Additionally, Nevada counties have tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that were dropped on Election Day in drop boxes located at polling places. Clark County said its Election Day drop boxes contained nearly 57,000 mail-in ballots.

Trump vs. DeSantis: The lackluster performance of several candidates backed by former President Donald Trump has cast further doubt on his planned 2024 campaign.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ resounding re-election is fueling calls for him to capitalize on his momentum and challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination.

The Trump-DeSantis showdown has been simmering for months now, but it could burst into the open as the primary season officially begins.

After the end of the “red wave”, McCarthy faces a more difficult path: Republicans are still closing in on a majority in the House, even after Democrats had a better-than-expected night on Tuesday.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving quickly to lock in the votes needed to claim the president’s gavel in the next Congress. CNN has not yet scheduled a Republican takeover of the chamber.

But the ultimate size of a Republican majority could determine how difficult it will be for McCarty to become president, as a narrow majority could tempt the Pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus to obstruct McCarthy’s leadership ambitions.

A source close to House Freedom Caucus deliberations told CNN Wednesday morning that there were about two dozen current and incoming members willing to vote against McCarthy if he did not offer them concessions.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufmann, Bob Ortega, Gary Tuchman, Paul Vercammen, Kristen Holmes, Gabby Orr, Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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