By Alyssa Newcomb
Cronkite News Service
PHOENIX – Early ballots and strong interest in congressional races helped make turnout for the August primary the highest in 20 years, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Tuesday.
Releasing the official primary canvass, Bennett said the statewide turnout of 30.09 percent exceeded his expectations.
“There were a lot of key contested races, a lot of excitement,” said Bennett, who was unopposed in his bid for reelection as secretary of state.
Two-thirds of voters requested early ballots, which was on par with previous elections, he said.
In total, 933,650 votes were cast, and five counties exceeded the statewide average of voter turnout: Yavapai, Greenlee, Gila, Pima and Graham, the canvass showed.
Maricopa County, home to three out of five Arizonans, had a 29 percent turnout.
The canvass by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office provided final totals in races decided by only a handful of votes. It showed that Andrew Thomas lost the Republican attorney general nomination to Tom Horne by 899 votes, while Democratic attorney general candidate David Lujan lost to Felecia Rotellini by 2,427 votes.
Bennett said he was pleased with the job counties did counting ballots, including the many early ballots that couldn’t be tallied on election night.
“The real blood and guts of elections occurs at counties,” he said. “Most, if not all, did an exceptional job in counting the ballots.”
Bennett said he was working on a tabulation of partisan turnout and expects to have in the next two weeks.
– Apache: 31.21 percent
– Cochise: 30.51 percent
– Coconino: 27.65 percent
– Gila: 36.64 percent
– Graham: 33.94 percent
– Greenlee: 39.63 percent
– La Paz: 26.94 percent
– Maricopa: 29.04 percent
– Mohave: 23.72 percent
– Navajo: 30.78 percent
– Pima: 35.22 percent
– Pinal: 24.47 percent
– Santa Cruz: 25.25 percent
– Yavapai: 41.35 percent
– Yuma: 25.13 percent