Low early ballot return may foreshadow poor 2014 voter turnout

Nov 3, 2014, 5:56 PM | Updated: 5:56 pm

PHOENIX — If the return on early ballots is any indication of Tuesday’s mid-term election turnout in Maricopa County, election officials are expecting an underwhelming show at the polls.

On Monday, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said with roughly 1,290,000 early mail ballots sent out to voters this election, less than half have made their way back to be counted.

“We’ve gotten back 570,000 so far and we’re in the process of counting those,” she said.

It’s not just the small return of early ballots that have officials such as Purcell thinking this year’s election will have fewer numbers of participants. It appears interest in Tuesday’s election in general is waning in Maricopa County.

“Calls at our call center are about a third of what they usually are,” Purcell said. “What we’ve seen in the returns from the early ballots, what we’ve seen in interest in people going on the website and sending us questions — normally we have a couple hundred of those a day, we’re doing maybe 30 – it just doesn’t seem to use that we see the interest out there.”

Despite an important election this year in Arizona where several of the state’s highest seats are up for grabs, Purcell said it’s likely the lack of interest will result in a lower turnout on Tuesday.

“The ads have kind of turned people off and I think that’s been a big thing,” she said. “We don’t have, of course, a president’s race in this one so that usually diminishes some of the interest.”

Purcell said she is hoping her expectations are wrong and that voters in Maricopa County show up. She encouraged people to do their part and participate in the election.

“This is your right to vote, but it is also your responsibility,” she said.

Purcell said voters who received their early ballot by mail and have not mailed them yet, must fill them out and drop them off at their regular polling location so they can still be counted on time.

If voters are uncertain where their local polling location is, they should go to the Maricopa County Recorder’s website.

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Low early ballot return may foreshadow poor 2014 voter turnout