Arizona Turnout in Special Congressional Election was High

Arizona held a special election on June 12, to fill the vacancy in the U.S. House seat, 8th district. Even though all the provisional ballots still haven’t been counted, turnout is already 47.1% of the number of registered voters, and that will increase as more ballots are counted.

Voters in the 8th district heard a stimulating campaign, in which three parties participated. The Democratic, Republican, and Green Parties appeared on that ballot. The Democratic candidate won with an absolute majority.

The Arizona 47.1% turnout is especially good, when compared to California’s June 5 statewide primary for President and all other partisan office. That system, using the top-two open primary law passed by the voters in 2010, yielded a turnout of approximately 31%. The votes haven’t all been counted yet so the exact turnout figure is not known. Preliminary reports show that California independent voters turned out at a significantly lower rate than the turnout for party members. This is true, even though the California Independent Voters Network spent over $1,000,000 on a mailing to 500,000 registered independent voters, urging them to vote in the June 5 primary.


  1. Nick Kruse · · Reply

    “The Arizona 47.1% turnout is especially good, when compared to California’s June 5 statewide primary for President and all other partisan office.”

    That is comparing apples and oranges. One is a primary; the other is a general election. While I enjoy reading most of the news on your website, your coverage of the top-two system seems wrong.

  2. So would people make the joke that the Greens cost the Republicans this race, since Republicans seem to want to blame everyone else when they lose an election?

  3. Richard Winger · · Reply

    California supporters of top-two insisted (during the 2010 campaign around Prop. 14) that primary turnout would be higher under a top-two system. Also, the Morrison Institute of Arizona said that in its report on top-two systems that top-two increases primary turnout. And, supporters of top-two in Washington state argued in 2004 that top-two would improve primary turnout, and they were surprised when Washington state’s first top-two primary, in 2008, was lower than primary turnout in 2004 when Washington was using a classic open primary. So it is newsworthy when these predictions are compared to reality.

  4. Demo Rep · · Reply

    How many summer vacations in CA in June ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. = NO moronic primaries, old or new style.

    Who collects GAFFE predictions ???

    — esp. after the 1948 Prez election — pre-mature call of Dewey election – Truman actually won the E.C. gerrymander election.

  5. Demo Rep · · Reply

    more – NO special vacancy elections.

    Candidates / incumbents should have rank order replacement lists.

    See 7 Dec 1941 — NOT safe to have old time leisurely vacancy elections in the EVIL New Age of surprise attacks and WMD.

  6. Nick Kruse · · Reply

    @3 – In this article, you were not comparing the turnout in a top-two primary to the turnout in a regular primary. You were comparing the turnout in a top-two primary to the turnout in a general election. Of course the general election turnout will be higher.

  7. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Overall, California turnout appears to be up relative to 2008.

    30.8% vs 28.2%

    In Washington, in 2004 there was a contested Democratic gubernatorial primary, featuring the former King County Executive.

    In 2008, the rematch of Rossi and Gregoire was a certain occurrence. Turnout in King County was down substantially. In neighboring counties it was about even. And it was up in the rest of the state. And if you compare the number of votes counted in the gubernatorial race, voting was actually up. Substantial numbers of voters either refused to participate, or deliberately spoiled their ballot in 2004.

  8. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Washington 2004

    Turnout 45.1%
    Governor 39.7%
    12.0% of voters either actively abstained, or were confused by the Pick-A-Party ballot.

    Washington 2008

    Turnout 42.6%
    Governor 42.2% +++
    Only 0.9% of voters either actively abstained, or were confused by Top 2 ballot.

    Turnout By County 2004 vs 2008

    King 46.4% 34.9% -11.5%
    Pierce 43.9% 40.6% -3.3%
    Snohomish 45.4% 42.4% -3.0%
    Remainder 44.6% 48.0% +3.4%

  9. Jim Riley · · Reply

    And if we compare the last Pick-A-Party primary in 2006 vs 2010: we see a marked increase in participation:

    Washington 2006

    Turnout 38.6%
    Senate 33.4%
    13.4% of voters either actively abstained or were confused by Pick-A-Party ballot.

    Turnout 40.9%
    Senate 40.3%
    1.5% senate abstention or confusion rate.

  10. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #7, California had two primaries in 2008. The February 2008 presidential primary had turnout of 57.7%. The June 2008 primary had no statewide offices up (just Congress and state legislature).

    The reason Washington state 2010 primary turnout was better than 2006 primary turnout is that by 2010, the two most populous counties in Washington state had switched to all-mail balloting (which they hadn’t had used in 2006).

  11. Demo Rep · · Reply

    # 10 How about ONE election with ONLY snail mail ballots ???

    How does Oregon manage to survive with ALL snail mail ballots ???

    How many Oregon ballot scanner machines work on each election and die peacefully – to be scrapped and recycled ???

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