Many races uncontested
With many races uncontested, voter turnout was light as expected Tuesday in Arizona’s primary election, but state officials still anticipated more than in the 2004 primary.
Many at the polls in the early going were retirees. Some voters cited a sense of civic responsibility. Some pointed to party loyalty; others said they just liked casting their votes in person rather than using early mail-in voting.
“It’s an inexact science, to be sure,” Deputy Secretary of State Kevin Tyne said of estimating turnout. But he adhered to the 30 percent forecast by Secretary of State Jan Brewer. In 2004, the turnout was about 25 percent.
“We’re estimating upward of 80 percent for the presidential election, which would be a record,” Tyne said.
Darrell Jolley, a voting inspector at a northeast Tucson precinct, described the number voting in the first few hours Tuesday as “terrible. We have had 20 voters since 6 a.m. Normally, we have about five times this number by this time.” Jolley said no contested races and early voting by mail were likely factors.
Among those 20 were retired educators Jack and Klaire Pirtle.
“We try to make all the elections; we feel like it’s our duty,” Pirtle said. “We’re looking forward to the national election.”
At a Phoenix polling site, Willis F. Carlson of Paradise Valley, dropped off a mail-in ballot at midday. Although spurred on by the county attorney race in Maricopa County, the registered Democrat said he makes it a point to vote in every election.
“I think it’s incredibly important. You don’t ever underestimate the ignorance and stupidity of the people who live in this country,” Carlson said. “You get like 25 percent (voter turnout) in this country if you’re lucky. We deserve what we get as a result of not voting.”
Herb Saunders had a short wait at a Scottsdale polling station. Saunders, who voted in the Republican primary, said voters should take primaries seriously and not just assume their favorite candidate will make it to November.
“If you miss your man in the primary, you’re going to have a sicko vote in the general. You’re not going to have your choice,” Saunders said.
At a midtown Tucson precinct, only 17 voters turned out in the early morning hours, helped by the 10 poll workers on hand. But inspector Chuck Joseph said some new workers were getting training for the anticipated crush of voters two months from now, which would mirror February’s presidential preference primary turnout. “I don’t think I sat down all day,” Jolley said. “We had lines going out the door.”
A Tucson couple held hands as they walked to their car after voting. “We vote every time there’s voting, and we like to come to the polls and vote,” said Shirley Lillard. “I just hope there are more people who will come out to vote.”
Arizona voters are increasingly using mail-in voting, so election-day turnout has less impact than in previous years.
“Some of the bigger counties’ reports are that it’s a little bit higher than it has been,” Tyne said. “The early voting looks like it’s a tick up from what it was in 2004, which is not unexpected. We also have more voters registered than in 2004.”