County officials reported a strong turnout for Tuesday's primary election, setting a new record with more than 700,000 ballots cast as of Saturday — four days before Election Day.
With two hours left to vote, another 45,000 citizens had dropped off a mail-in ballot or voted in person without disruptions on Tuesday, according to Erika Flores, deputy director of communications with the Maricopa County Elections Department.
“We have more than 45,000 in-person voters so far. We’ll have a better idea once the polls close how many we have total in person,” Ms. Flores said.
She credited the record turnout to the state’s robust mail-in voting system and a dedicated outreach to voters.
“In Arizona, voters have had the option to vote by mail since 1996. It depends on the election what percentage of voters vote by mail,” Ms. Flores said. “Sometimes it’s around 75% or 76%, but on average it’s about 80% of voters in Maricopa County that vote by mail.”
Arizona election participation has trended upward during the past decade.
For the 2018 midterm primary election, just under 700,000 cast a vote in the county; while in the 2016 presidential primary election, fewer than 600,000 voters turned out, Ms. Flores explained.
Elections officials worked closely this year with health experts as they set up 99 in-person voting sites around the county.
Unlike previous elections, voters this year were able to choose any site, rather than having a specific polling location assigned to them. And poll workers took extra care to keep voters safe from infection during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to Ms. Flores.
“In a pandemic, we were able to set up the vote-anywhere sites working closely with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to implement safety measures and to ensure that voters knew about their options,” she said.
Officials launched an intensive campaign earlier than in previous cycles to focus on registering voters for individual mail-in ballots and the Permanent Early Voting List.
The multimedia campaign highlighted registration and voting deadlines, as well as various methods for voting in both the primary and upcoming general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Ms. Flores urged voters to learn more about the November election at their website, BeBallotReady.vote.
In one of the Valley’s most contentious primary races, former sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to be falling short in his comeback bid, based on preliminary reporting from the County Recorder’s Office at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Jerry Sheridan — a 38-year Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office veteran and former colleague of Mr. Arpaio — currently leads the Republican primary pack by a narrow margin with 122,094 out of 354,934 ballots counted for a 36% margin.
Mr. Arpaio trailed by only 516 votes, having received 121,578 for 36% as of Tuesday night; while challenger Mike Crawford took 88,259 votes for 26%.
The eventual winner of the Republican primary will face Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a Democrat, in November.
A former member of the U.S. House from 2015 to 2019 representing Arizona’s Congressional District 2, Sen. Martha McSally handily defeated her primary opponent to advance to the general election.
Ms. McSally garnered 419,899 votes for 77.6% of the 541,193 votes cast in the Republican senate primary, while challenger Daniel McCarthy received only 22.4% support with 121,294 votes, based on preliminary reporting from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office on Election Day.
Ms. McSally defeated Republican challengers Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio in the 2018 primary after taking 54.6% of the vote. But she was defeated in the general election that year, losing to Kyrsten Sinema in a 50% to 47.6% contest.
This November, she will face off against Mark Kelly, who got 526,441 votes in his uncontested Democratic primary.
Incumbent Paul Gosar outpaced challenger Anne Marie Ward with 55,859 votes for 62.5% of the 80,410 cast — Ms. Ward received 33,551 votes for 37.5% of those cast.
Currently serving on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Natural Resources, Mr. Gosar seeks a sixth term in the House. To get there, he will need to beat Democratic primary victor Delina DiSanto, who took 26,842 votes against challenger Stuart Starkey’s 9,397 for a 75%-25% win.
Democrat Joan Greene won her primary after taking 29,899 out of 63,505 votes for 51%, outrunning challengers Javier Ramos (38%) and Jon Ireland (11%).
Ms. Greene, who defeated primary challenger Jose Torres after taking 59.3% of the vote in the August 2018 primary, will now face Republican incumbent Andy Biggs who ran unopposed to win his primary with 80,720 out of 91,211 votes cast for 98%.
Prior to this Congressional run, Mr. Biggs served in the Arizona Senate and House since 2003, where he held key leadership roles, including senate majority leader and senate president.
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni won her district’s primary after receiving 37,484 out of 73,111 for 54% of votes counted so far in the District 6 contest.
She defeated three Democratic primary challengers: Anita Malik (36%), Stephanie Rimmer (3,932) and Karl Gentles (3,062).
Dr. Tipirneni failed in a previous bid to unseat District 8 Rep. Debbie Lesko, taking only 44.5% of the vote in the November 2018 general election.
In November, Dr. Tipirneni will face Republican incumbent Rep. David Schweikert, who got 75,962 out of 85,540 votes for a 100% showing in his unchallenged primary.
Mr. Schweikert claimed his fifth term in the House after defeating Democratic challenger Anita Malik with 55.2% of the vote in November 2018.
Democratic incumbent Ruben Gallego ran unopposed this year and took 45,865 out of 48,135 votes cast for a 100% showing.
His Republican challenger in November will be Joshua Barnett, who took 12,119 out of 14,856 votes for 100% in the one-candidate primary.
Mr. Gallego retained his seat last time after defeating a third-party challenger with 85.6% of the vote in 2018.
Republican incumbent Debbie Lesko seeks reelection to a second term representing voters of Congressional District 8, which encompasses parts of Litchfield Park, Peoria, Sun Cities, El Mirage, Surprise, Arrowhead Ranch, Anthem and New River.
She took 86,845 out of 95,654 votes for a 100% share of the uncontested Republican primary Tuesday night.
Ms. Lesko appears to be headed for a November matchup with Michael Muscato, who received 31,340 out of 67,082 votes cast in the Democratic primary for a 53% lead over challengers Robert Olsen (31%) and Bob Musselwhite (15%).
Ms. Lesko started her first complete term in the House after defeating Dr. Tipirneni with 55.5% of the vote in 2018. Having served on the Committee on Rules, Committee on Homeland Security and Committee on Judiciary, Ms. Lesko previously served in the Arizona Senate and House since 2008.
Republican Dave Giles received 22,337 out of 47,206 votes for a 54% lead over challengers Sam Huang (24%) and Nicholas Tutora (22%).
The primary sets Mr. Giles up to face Democratic incumbent Rep. Greg Stanton, who got 100% support after taking 70,700 out of 74,918 votes in his uncontested primary.
Mr. Stanton seeks reelection to a second House term, having won against Republican Steve Ferrara with 61% of the vote in 2018. Prior to serving as Phoenix mayor from 2012 to 2018, Mr. Stanton served as deputy attorney general for Arizona.