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Bennett: Independents stayed home despite potential to sway primaries

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett certifies the 2014 primary election canvass on Sept. 8, 2014. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett certifies the 2014 primary election canvass on Sept. 8, 2014. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Nearly three out of four registered voters didn’t bother to cast ballots for any of the primary races.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Monday the official tally for the Aug. 26 election shows 877,270 ballots were cast. That is out of more than 3.2 million registered voters, for a turnout of just a hair more than 27 percent.

Bennett said that’s about three points less than four years ago, the last time there were statewide offices up for grabs in a non-presidential election year. And it’s about one point less than 2012.

But Bennett said the results are not surprising, particularly in comparison to 2010.

He said that election featured some of the same battles as this time, including a contested Republican primary for governor. At that point, though it was Dean Martin and Buzz Mills trying to deny a full term to incumbent Jan Brewer; this time there were six contenders for the office she is vacating.

But one thing that’s different, he said, is there was a high-profile race in the Republican Party for the U.S. Senate.

“Four years ago you had (incumbent John) McCain and (challenger J.D.) Hayworth duking it out,” he said, saying that race might have brought more people to the polls.

Bennett said he is still working the numbers to figure out which party’s voters were more motivated.

He does know the number of ballots cast for Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Americans Elect candidates. But Bennett does not have any information at this point about how many of those were cast not by party faithful but by independents who were allowed to vote in any of those four primaries.

As to those independents, Bennett said they seem to have stayed home despite that ability to affect those primaries.

They are the largest voting bloc, with 1.15 million listing no party preference. But Bennett is estimating their overall turnout at no more than 12 percent.

One thing Bennett does know is that there were just 21 individuals who voted only in congressional races, as that’s all that was permitted them.

That is a direct result of a fight between the state, which requires proof of citizenship to register, and the federal Elections Assistance Commission which was empowered by Congress to come up with a voter registration form that states have to honor. And that one requires only that applicants swear they are eligible to vote.

That fight is playing out in federal appeals court.

In the interim, Arizona has been allowed to enforce its proof-of-citizenship requirements for statewide, legislative and local races. But the state, at least for now, has to allow those who submit the EAC-approved form to vote in federal races.

Bennett said there are perhaps a couple thousand individuals who registered with the federal form and never provide citizenship proof.

In formalizing the tally from the Aug. 26 vote, Bennett was forced to certify that his own gubernatorial bid came up far short: He gathered just 62,010 votes, compared to more than 200,000 for state Treasurer Doug Ducey who claimed the right to go up in November against Democrat Fred DuVal, Libertarian Barry Hess and John Mealer, the nominee for the Americans Elect Party.

Bennett said once his term ends at the end of the year he will seek employment in the private sector. He was chief executive officer of family-owned Bennett Oil Co. until 2006 and continues to serve on its board of directors.

County Number of votes cast Turnout rate
Apache 17,082 37.90%
Cochise 22,231 33.00%
Coconino 20,900 31.20%
Gila 11,366 39.40%
Graham 5,006 28.80%
Greenlee 1,402 32.30%
La Paz 2,341 26.20%
Maricopa 495,836 25.10%
Mohave 29.136 25.10%
Navajo 17,340 31.30%
Pima 146,756 30.10%
Pinal 41,144 26.60%
Santa Cruz 5,583 25.00%
Yavapai 45,151 37.20%
Yuma 15,966 21.10%

– Source: Secretary of State’s Office




  1. There was interesting news about minor parties, particularly Americans Elect. (Stephen Dolgos and I were the two Americans Elect nominees for Congress in 2012.)

    There were 1,474 voters in the AE primary; the Libertarians had 6,134 voters. (There are 26,915 registered Libertarians and only 399 registered Americans Elects, so that was a good showing for the latter party.)

    There will, as in 2012, be two Americans Elect candidates for Congress, both winning with write-in votes: Rebecca DeWitt, who was previously a Green Party nominee, won the Americans Elect nomination in the 7th C.D. with 4 write-in votes; and Stephen Dolgos, the party’s 2012 nominee in the 8th C.D., won the nomination again with 2 write-in votes. (A “plurality” of the votes is needed to achieve nomination.)

    Joe Cobb will be the 7th C.D. Libertarian nominee for at least the third time; he and DeWitt will be competing for second place against Democratic nominee Ruben Gallego since there is no Republican candidate in the district.

    In the 8th C.D., Americans Elect candidate Dolgos is assured of running second to Republican Rep. Trent Franks since they are the only two candidates. I suspect many Democrats may end up voting for Dolgos, who could achieve a substantial percentage of the vote, perhaps 25% or more.

    In the 4th C.D., another write-in candidate, Chris Rike, won the Libertarian nomination with 29 votes. He will face Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and Democrat Mike Weisser.

    Finally in Congressional races, another Libertarian write-in candidate, Powell Gamill, won the 9th C.D. nomination, with 52 votes for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Krysten Sinema; the Republican nominee is Wendy Rogers.

    J.L. Mealer will be the Americans Elect nominee for Governor, winning the primary over write-in candidate Janelle Wood 722-38. Barry Hess will again be the Libertarian gubernatorial nominee.

    Two Americans Elect candidates will be on the ballot for the Arizona State Legislature: Kelly Gneitling for State Senator in District 7 (won the primary with 7 write-in votes), where there’s no Republican candidate; and Suzie Easter for State Representative in District 22 (won with 4 write-in votes), where she’ll face 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, one of whom each is an incumbent.

    (Arizona legislative districts have one State Senator and two State Representatives, so the two running with the highest number of votes in each district are elected.)

    There are several Libertarian candidates for the legislature, but apart from the Governor’s race, none of the other seven state offices have any minor party candidates.

    The Green Party is no longer an official party in Arizona.

  2. Thanks for the details Richard Grayson. Here it is, 2022 and I still run into people who swear they voted for me in 2014 during the gubernatorial race. I just wish their numbers correlated with my 1% of the votes to boost it up a bit. Speaking with Secretary of State Ken Bennett during the campaigning, I could see his frustration the entire time and watching then candidate Doug Ducey sprinting across the parking lots towards his beat up 1980’s Honda Civic to race to his next event, it was obvious he was front runner even then. Still…. With all of those Independents ‘not voting’ it’s odd they didn’t cast a vote for me as the first ever fourth candidate on a general ballot (anywhere, any time) and the only Independent since the Americans Elect did not exist then and does not exist now…. I was merely riding an absconded AE ballot slot.

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