by Jim Nintzel
The Pima County elections crew is still sorting through a final pile of ballots, but while we're waiting on that, we can share a few fun facts about voting patterns.
A total of 309,700 early ballots were mailed to voters. Of those, just 229,359 were returned, according to the latest figures from county spokesman Mark B. Evans. While Evans cautions that the number of returns may creep up a bit after more ballots are verified, it’s pretty close to an accurate count. That means that only 74 percent of those who received early ballots sent them back in—a significant drop from general elections previous years. In 2012, 81 percent of the ballots were returned; in 2010, the number was 80 percent. In 2008, it was 91 percent and in 2006, it was 88 percent.
This tells us that many voters have been signed up for the Permanent Early Voter List by campaigns but had no interest in actually voting this year. Why not? That's an excellent question that deserves to be explored. Maybe they were turned off by the campaign ads (in which case, the negative ads did what they were supposed to do), maybe they just forgot, maybe they lost their ballots and had to cast them at the polls. It will be interesting to look into how many of the unengaged voters were Democrats, Republicans or independents.
Whatever the answer, the majority of voters still prefer voting early. A total of 58,488 voters cast ballots at the polls on Election Day, compared to the 229,359 who cast early ballots. So close to 80 percent of the ballots cast were early ballots.
Correction: This post originally had an incorrect number of early ballots returned.