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Arizona is the most race-lit state on Election Day. Here’s what to expect next week

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If Arizona Sen. John McCain had a data tape recording every single vote cast in the state, the tape likely holds the track-by-track trajectory of this year’s long-distance race to replace him as the GOP’s presidential nominee.

On paper, the tape’s working as a powerful road map: While the recent controversy over white supremacists participating in a suburban Phoenix ballot drive has subsided, some 1.8 million people still have not cast their ballots. Of those, nearly half — as many as 2.1 million — are likely to vote in person.

The figure has seized the attention of campaign operatives, the secretary of state’s office and even the president, who still has a wide lead over his likely Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Just off the Arizona airport, Donald Trump Jr. — no longer pushing his apparent plan to grab the world’s attention from future generations by sporting a Richard Nixon mask and announcing his intention to run for president — is equipping volunteers with search software to help locate the country’s 6 percent of voters who, with an “X” by their name, cast ballots on Election Day.

How hard is the Donald Trump Jr. counting in Arizona? He tells Trump the Coachella Valley candidate is a leading Democrat – but he does not specify which one https://t.co/dWPNBruu5a pic.twitter.com/7wBRUAYGH5 — John Koblin (@koblin) October 14, 2018

The battle over securing the last 10 percent of votes in a tight election is still a little more than a week away from Election Day. But in the final stretch, polls show that, among the 15 states that could decide the outcome of the presidential election, the tussle over the votes from Arizona is the hottest — and perhaps most fascinating — of all.

Here is what to expect next week:

ALABAMA — Coleman McClendon, a 63-year-old now-retired shipping manager, has been waiting in line since 7 a.m. to vote for the first time. At the Mobile County probate office, the line snakes across the parking lot from the mobile voting facilities into a nearby shopping plaza with a tight turn-around time: 2.5 miles.

Rhoda Lincoln, McClendon’s polling place, says she gets about 10 people in line each day — and scores of others at locations around town, running as far as town hall, Daphne City Hall and Mobile County’s main library.

She used to wait about 20 minutes to cast her ballot, but the line can stretch on for more than an hour.

“It’s not just the process — that can wait — it’s just so waiting to go into a voting location,” she said. “I can see the people that are just hanging around, then they find themselves back in line.”

There are about 58,000 voters registered in the county, but only 20% to 25% actually cast ballots last year.

The number of people voting by mail is up, with 82% of the ballots voted out — some 43,130 — compared with 39,046 the year before.

“The die has been cast, and the primaries are behind us,” McClendon said at mid-morning on Sunday. “Now we are waiting for the general election.”

MONTANA — Tens of thousands of ballots are still sitting in boxes around Montana as parties and candidates have waged a nasty pitched battle in the past couple weeks over who should handle the paperwork for absentee votes.

Trump called Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a “clown” and, referring to his Republican primary opponent, former state attorney general Matt Rosendale, repeatedly used Rosendale’s middle name as a legal description of unproven allegations that Rosendale had lied about his military service.

Donald Trump Jr. said he’d spent the weekend in Missoula in his role as a Trump-backed organizer of Trump-affiliate volunteers to make sure no one disrupted vote counting in the Montana races.

“This is a really interesting story, and obviously you have two politics that both care about turnout,” he said in a telephone interview, admitting the effort had not improved poll numbers for Republican Gov. Steve Bullock — but expected to do well for Rosendale.

There are nearly 5,000 absentees left to process in the state.

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