The Pima County elections director had to employ an unorthodox lock-picking technique Tuesday morning to ensure one polling place opened on time.

Ten minutes before the polls were scheduled to open at 6 a.m., Brad Nelson said, he was notified that the doors were still locked at the Junior League of Tucson building, 2099 E. River Road.

When he arrived, Nelson grabbed a tire iron from his car and smashed a glass door so workers could get to the polling station.

The poll worker responsible for opening the door had overslept, prompting him to find an alternate way to get inside, Nelson said.

Since election workers set up most of the booths and equipment the night before, there was no interruption to the voting process, he said.

Repairs are being made, Nelson added.

Nelson said voter turnout wasn't expected to surpass 35 to 40 percent.

The Pima County Recorder's Office sent out a record 223,000 early ballots with 469,785 registered voters in Pima County, and around half of the early ballots were turned in through Tuesday.


Tucson Republicans enjoyed some unusual entertainment at the election night party at El Parador.

Jeff Flake campaign volunteer and intern Rob Matte is a puppeteer and ventriloquist. He brought his stuffed elephant puppet, Elgar, to pose for photos.

Elgar, who was wearing a patriotic hat and a campaign sticker, said, "I'm a staunch conservative and a big Jeff Flake supporter."

Flake was in Phoenix and missed that particular photo op.

At the Republican party at the Redline Sports Grill, supporters were treated to a rendition of James Brown's "I Feel Good" by Congressional District 3 candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer - before the results even started rolling in.

The last person to leave the party was Board of Supervisors candidate Ally Miller, who had a clear lead at the end of the night but who didn't want to accept an outright victory until 70 percent of the votes had been counted.


Meanwhile in Phoenix, media members used Twitter to report on getting kicked out of the election-night party of brothers Russell and Lester Pearce, who lost their respective bids for state Senate and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Family members said it was a private party, and the media reported the evening's defeats from the parking lot.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or Star reporters Brady McCombs, Becky Pallack and Kim Smith contributed to this article. Brenna Goth, a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star, also contributed.