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Maricopa County Sees Spike In Early Ballot Requests From Independents

Helen Purcell was Maricopa County Recorder in 2016.
Nick Blumberg/KJZZ
Helen Purcell was Maricopa County Recorder in 2016.

The Maricopa County Elections Department says over the past three weeks about 25,000 more independent voters have asked for an early ballot to vote in this month's primary. That brings the total number of potential independent early voters to nearly 76,000.

Voters not registered with one of Arizona’s political parties are allowed to vote in primaries, they just have to specify which party’s ballot they want. In the past three weeks, Maricopa County has seen an outpouring of interest from independents.

County Recorder Helen Purcell thinks the bump is due to better outreach, including a new notice mailed out to voters who don't belong to a political party 33 days before the election. "When you're looking at almost 76,000 requests that we have had from independents so far, and in total in participation in the 2012 election it was only 43,000," Purcell said.

And that number's bound to grow after independents take to the polls in person on election day.

Purcell also said independents can be more engaged than other voters.

"Because they have had to tell us something, they didn't just automatically get a ballot, they had to come back to us and say, 'This is the ballot I want,' they are already engaged in this election," Purcell said. "And their returns are going to be a great deal higher, I think, than what we see from some of those others who are going to automatically get a ballot."

Voters have until Friday to request a mail-in ballot. About 150,000 Maricopa County voters have mailed in a ballot for the primary election so far.

News Politics
Nick Blumberg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2014.