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Maricopa County: Almost 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballot in Arizona primary

(Cronkite News Photo/Grecia Drabos)

PHOENIX — Nearly 50 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in last week’s presidential preference election, officials said Tuesday.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell’s office said unofficial numbers indicated 49 percent voted in the election, up 5 percent from 2012.

A vast majority of those who voted did so via an early mail-in ballot — 533,760 votes were cast via early ballot in Maricopa County — while 83,489 voted at county polls last Tuesday.

Purcell said the high number of mail-in ballots was part of the reason her office decided to reduce the number of polling locations from 200 to 60.

“Those people will already be getting a ballot and obviously will not — or should not — be going to the polls on election day,” she said.

Of course, the decision backfired and has lead to frustration countywide. Purcell originally blamed voters who chose to wait in hourslong lines, but later said she did not mean to say it.

Some officials have called for a federal investigation, while Secretary of State Michele Reagan said a host of behind-the-scenes issues caused complications for voters. Her office is conducting an investigation.

Angry Arizonans protested at the state capitol building on Monday, where one person was arrested for allegedly causing a disturbance in the gallery following a House panel hearing on the matter.

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