More than 230,000 ballots remain to
be counted, but voter turnout in Tuesday's election fell short of the record
participation that had been anticipated in Arizona.
of Wednesday evening, the Secretary of State's Office reported that 64 percent
of the state's roughly 3 million registered voters cast ballots in this
presidential election. That figure mirrored voter participation in Maricopa County, where 63.7 percent of 1.7 million
voters turned out at the polls.
Those numbers are expected to creep
up in the coming days as election officials process more than 200,000
provisional ballots and early ballots that arrived on Election Day.
But statewide turnout in this
year's presidential contest - featuring Arizona favorite son John McCain and Barack
Obama, the first Black nominee of a major political party - won't top the 80
percent turnout seen in 1980, when Ronald Reagan unseated incumbent Jimmy
fact, it probably won't even best the participation seen in the previous
presidential race in 2004, when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry.
Turnout that year was 77
State and county election officials
had projected turnout to climb as high as 80 to 85 percent on Tuesday because of
the historic nature of the presidential race. But as a percentage, voter turnout
appeared to be down from 2004 in all counties except Santa Cruz and Navajo.
Election officials in Maricopa County, the state's largest by population,
said they still need to process about 230,000 ballots, with tabulation beginning
Roughly 118,000 early ballots
arrived by mail or were dropped off at polling sites on Election Day; 12,000
came in earlier but also need to be counted.
Meanwhile, 100,000 provisional
ballots - those given to voters who don't show up on precinct voter rolls or
fail to produce proper identification - still need to be
Yavapai County officials said they were tabulating about 7,000
early ballots and 3,500 provisional ballots. But outstanding ballots from the
state's 13 other counties were not immediately
Early and provisional ballots could
mean the difference in state and local races that are too close to call.
Democrat Sam George and Republican Bob Stump are still battling for the third
open seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, while Jim Lane was leading
longtime incumbent Mary Manross by 592 votes for the Scottsdale mayor's
Proposition 101, the statewide
initiative on a health-care system, was failing by just 2,288
Nearly 3 million Arizonans were
registered for Tuesday's election, up 400,000 from 2004. But by the time all
ballots are counted, the number of voters who participated in this year's
election could rival the 2.1 million who cast votes four years ago.
really depends on your point of view," said Deputy Secretary of State Kevin
Tyne. "Some would say, 'We are right on the edge of setting a record for the
number of Arizonans turning out to vote.' Others would say 'Oh, but there's a
lower turnout percentage.' "
Gullett, co-chair of McCain's Arizona
presidential campaign, said turnout may have been down this year because neither
McCain nor Obama engaged in expensive get-out-the-vote efforts in Arizona.
he added that Republicans here benefited from the "McCain effect," bucking the
Democratic tide that swept through the country. While the Arizona GOP lost one
congressional seat, it appeared to make gains in the Legislature and other
"Arizona was in a unique spot in terms of the
election," he said.
John McCain had not been at the top of the ticket, it would have been a worse
day for Republicans in Arizona. I do think there was a McCain effect
that was very