Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is attending the GOP convention in Florida but has been getting updates from county election officers across the state, said he was told the turnout has so far been “pretty light” — comparable to the primary turnout two years ago.
Karen Osborne, elections director for Maricopa County, said that’s her impression, as well.
If the trend holds, Bennett surmised that this year’s primary elections would draw the same level of voter participation in 2010, which was not a presidential election year.
That year, 30 percent of the state’s then-3.1 million voters flocked to cast their ballots in the primaries.
The number of voters has since increased, but not by a whole lot.
Bennett said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell also told him the turnout is “running pretty light.”
Arizona typically has low turnout in the primaries, even when there are hotly contested races.
Actually, the primary turnout was much lower in 2008, when only 23 percent voted.
But voter participation skyrocketed in the general election, when almost 78 percent of the state’s almost 3 million voters cast their ballots. That year, U.S. Sen. John McCain captured the Republican presidential nomination and led his party’s ticket into the November elections.
There are fiercely fought matchups this year on both the Democratic and Republican sides, notably several congressional and legislative races.
Additionally, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl’s seat is up for grabs following his decision to retire.
On the Republican side, businessman Wil Cardon and U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake are vying for the seat.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat, is uncontested in his party’s primary. He will face the winner of the Flake-Cardon match-up in November.