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Primary turnout is a record: Highest in GOP dominated counties

Arizona Election
Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 21:19:31-04

PHOENIX — It’s official. A record number of Arizonans cast a vote in the 2022 primary.

With nearly every ballot counted, 1,459,346 Arizonans voted last week. That breaks the record set in 2020 by about 7,000 ballots.

Eight of 15 counties smashed their primary voting records. Even though residents faced a myriad of issues with ballot design and availability, 6,500 more people voted in Pinal County than in 2020. Maricopa, the state’s largest county by far, brought in 10,000 more votes this primary. Prescott-centered Yavapai county added 6,500 votes despite a population 15th of the size of the Valley of the Sun.

Most counties with record turnout in this primary are also counties where Republican registration makes up a significantly higher share of registered voters. The reason the record increase in 2020 turnout was not larger was a drop in Democratic registered voter participation. Three Democratic party stronghold counties, Coconino, Pima, and Santa Cruz, all experienced turnout drops of around seven points from the 2020 primary.

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A lot of the reason for rising ballot numbers can be explained by Arizona’s rising population. In one decade, the state netted over one million more registered voters. From 3.1 million in 2012 to 4.3 million in the latest report released by the Secretary of State before the primary.

The story of this primary was a surge in Republican turnout. With the GOP having more competitive races about 840,000 Republicans and Independents that chose a Republican ballot voted, making up 58% of all ballots cast, the highest share since 2016.

The big question is does record primary turnout mean record mid-term turnout in the fall?

An analysis of election data going back to the year 2000 shows that higher primary turnout does not predict higher turnout in November. Arizonans’ participation in primaries, mid-terms, and presidential elections are on the rise, and has been since 2014. There was an over 10-point jump in turnout in the 2018 midterm compared to 2014. It does appear that around 2.5 million votes will be cast in November, but if turnout is high, the number of votes could cross 3 million, more than any election except the 2020 General Election.