More votes cast early in 2018 than in all of 2014

    The number of ballots voted early in 2018 has surpassed the total number of votes cast in the 2014 elections, the last time Arizona voters went to the polls to elect statewide officers.

    Four years ago, there were 1,537,671 votes cast in-person on Election Day and through Arizona’s early voting system. As of today, the number of early ballots cast for tomorrow’s election is 1,586,783

    That this year’s early ballot turnout has eclipsed the entirety of turnout in 2014 by nearly 50,000 votes signals an enthusiasm among midterm voters that is rarely seen. Included in that total are 438,000 voters who are casting a ballot for only the first or second time in Arizona. Among that group of new and infrequent voters, Republicans outnumber Democrats by fewer than 2,000 people.

    Elections officials estimate that between 70 and 75 percent of votes this year will be cast early, meaning there could be more than 650,000 more votes added to that total when the polls close Tuesday at 7 p.m. Total voting this early is likely to eclipse 2.1 million votes, and could approach 2.3 million.

    If turnout is on the high end of estimates, the turnout rate could pass 60 percent of registered voters, a rate not seen since 2006 — the last Democratic wave year.

    The turnout rate in 2014 was 47.5 percent.

    Data collected by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office shows that, although Republicans are leading early vote tallies, Democrats have significantly cut into their historical advantage. The latest figures show Republicans leading Democrats in early ballots cast by 7.4 percentage points, more than four points less than the historical midterm GOP advantage of 11.7 points.

    Jim Small
    Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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