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(AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
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Maricopa County voter turnout hits lowest mark since 2000

(AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

PHOENIX — Election 2016 was officially put in the books on Monday and voter turnout was lower than expected by Maricopa County officials.

“I thought we would have some place in the neighborhood of 80 percent turnout in this election, just because there seemed to be so much interest,” Recorder Helen Purcell said. “But it’s been the same everywhere. Voter turnout was down around the country.”

According to results, which were canvassed Monday, 1.6 million people cast a ballot in the county. That number marks the lowest voter turnout since 2000.

However, Purcell said her department noticed a growing trend — voting by mail-in ballot. She said 78 percent of Maricopa County residents voted by mail rather than turning up at the polls.

“Not as many people go to the polling place on Election Day,” she said. “They like to vote by mail, particularly in Arizona. We were kind of the early starters of mail-in ballots and it seems to be the way people want to go.”

Some of those mail-in ballots proved key for several Arizona Republicans, who saw their election leads grow as officials counted those that were submitted at the last minute.

In the Legislative District 28 Senate race, Democratic Rep. Eric Meyer of Paradise Valley saw his election night lead evaporate to Republican Rep. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix.

Late ballots added to that margin nearly every day until election officials finished counting Nov. 18. Meyer would lose by 2,312 votes.

KTAR’s Sharon Mittelman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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