Return of Early Ballots Roughly on Target, Says Official; Numbers Somewhat Sluggish Amid Bitter Campaigns

About half of the early ballots sent out to potential voters in Maricopa County have been returned as of this morning, election officials say.

"We're not anticipating a lower-than-normal percentage of returns," says Mark Valenzuela, county assistant elections director.

About 313,000 of the roughly 600,000 early ballots mailed to voters this election cycle are back in county elections to be counted.

That's slightly fewer than the department has seen returned by this time over the past decade, Valenzuela says. Usually, it's about 55 or 58 percent, based on analysis of primary elections going back to 2000, he says.


Some pundits believe the sluggish rate of return reflects voter indecision because of the heated campaigns out there, such as the ones between Senator John McCain and J.D. Hayworth, or Andrew Thomas and Tom Horne.

In a Friday Arizona Republic article on the subject, County Recorder Helen Purcell said a parapharased statement that, "voter disgust with the negative tone of this year's campaigns, which have been filled with attack ads."

Purcell's opinion is colored by personal experience: She's been accused by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's camp of favoring Rick Romley over Bill Montgomery for county attorney.

Yet if the rate of early ballot returns is just a few percentage points below normal, she may be far more disgusted than most voters.