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Big increase in write-ins for governor’s race in Arizona midterm

By: - November 24, 2022 7:00 am

Photo by Jim Small | Arizona Mirror

The midterm election in Arizona garnered a high voter turnout of around 63% and led to some of the tightest races in Arizona history, but how exactly did Arizonans’ choices or lack thereof, compare to previous elections? 

One area that saw some increases was the number of write-in votes in some races.

In this year’s governor’s race, 4,903 people voted for a write-in candidate. Of those, only 469 were qualified write-ins, meaning they were qualified candidates recognized by the state. This was a 153% increase in total write-in votes compared to the last midterm in 2018. 

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Democrat Katie Hobbs came out on top of the governor’s race, beating her Republican opponent Kari Lake, who has so far refused to concede. 

Another race that saw a big increase in write-in votes was state mine inspector with 41,000 people writing in a candidate this year, compared to just 2,230 in 2018. However this year Republican Paul Marsh ran unopposed, while in the previous election there were two candidates on the ballot. Other statewide candidates saw a decrease in write-ins or similar numbers to 2018, with the governor’s race and state mine inspector being the outliers.

State mine inspector was one of two races with a major increase in undervotes, going up by 435% with more than 549,000 likely leaving the space blank compared to approximately 102,000 in the prior election.

In Legislative District 13, where a recount was triggered because of a margin of 270 votes between election conspiracy theorist Liz Harris and fellow Republican Julie Willoughby, there was also an increase in undervotes.

That race had a 71% increase in undervotes compared to the same race in the 2018 election and a 315% increase in the number of write-ins.

In 2018, some statewide races had similar numbers of undervotes compared to their 2022 counterparts. In the race for secretary of state in 2018, there were approximately 43,000 undervotes in Maricopa County. In 2022, there were around 41,000. The attorney general and treasurer races also both saw similar numbers, compared to the most recent midterm election.

Most races this year saw decreases in the number of undervotes, like the race for the United States Senate. In 2018, there were a little more than 12,000 undervotes as compared to the 9,000 this election, a 21% decrease, according to Maricopa County data. The governor’s race also saw a 26% decrease in the number of people leaving the space blank.

The race for state superintendent of public Instruction also saw a 17% decrease in undervotes. 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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