The results reflected a continuing trend: Most people in the county are voting early rather than on Election Day. Of the 1.8 million registered voters in the county, 21.7 percent cast early ballots and only 4.6 percent voted at their polling place for a total turnout of 26.3 percent.
The office reported that as of the most recent count on Sept. 1, 483,026 of the county’s 1.8 million registered voters participated in the primary. The final, official count is to be announced Sept. 7.
The results reflect a slight decrease in the percentage of people who voted in person, County Recorder Helen Purcell said.
In 2010 – a non-presidential election year – primary turnout at the polls was reported just above 8 percent. The 2008 primary it was just above 4 percent, Purcell said.
“I don’t know why the difference between presidential and non-presidential election years,” Purcell said. “Maybe it’s because state offices are elected those years – maybe that makes a difference. It’s kind of hard to analyze that.”
Purcell said she had anticipated a higher voter turnout at the polls.
“My estimations were based on what we’ve seen in the past,” she said. “Mine was just a hope-for turnout. I’d love to see more people turn out. I don’t know why they don’t.”
Reports that the U.S. Department of Justice was planning to visit some polling locations to determine if there was any voter discrimination caused a stir among some voters this year, but Purcell said DOJ presence has been a normal occurrence for the past 10 years.
“We are one of the states that have to have everything pre-cleared by the Justice Department,” she said.
Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said it is not known whether any issues arose during the Justice Department’s visit to any specific polling location.
“We are not privy to that information until we get a report,” Reed said.
While Reed said it is unknown when an official report might be received from the Justice Department, Purcell said the county usually doesn’t hear anything from the feds. She said, however, the county did receive a complaint from a precinct in a Surprise.
Purcell said the issue may have been due to a voter hesitating to answer questions from officials.
“If someone walks in with a badge, they might become intimidated,” she said.
Reed said if any issues arose, DOJ would contact the county.
“If there is something we need to improve, I’m sure they will let us know,” she said.