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PHOENIX — More Arizonans have cast early ballots for Tuesday’s general election than all the ballots cast in the midterms four years ago.
New figures from the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday — the day before the election — showed that 1,586,783 early ballots had been turned in. By contrast, in the entire 2014 midterm elections, 1,537,671 people voted, whether early or at the polls.
The biggest turnout for the moment appears to be in Maricopa County where there already are 100,000 more ballots turned in than those who voted at all in 2014.
At this point, Republicans hold a decided edge statewide, with 41 percent of those early ballots coming from those registered with the GOP, versus 34 percent from Democrats and 24 percent from those unaffiliated with either major party.
But that split has been narrowing.
There were days last month where Republican ballots turned in exceeded Democratic ballots by more than 15,000. The most recent GOP edge is less than 2,000 a day as Democrats have started to mail in their early ballots.
Overall, Republicans hold a 136,587 registration edge over Democrats of the more than 3.7 million people registered for this election. So that makes turnout important for both sides.
But the real balance of power could rest with the more than 1.2 million people who are unaffiliated with any party.
Women seem to be outperforming men in ballot returns, turning in 51 percent of those early ballots come from women. By comparison, the Census Bureau says just 50 percent of the state is female.
And the average age of early voters at 58.
Outside of Maricopa County, only two counties already have exceeded the 2014 turnout: Yavapai and Yuma. In all three counties Republican early ballots outnumber those from Democrats.
But in Pima County, where the early ballot count is just 6,000 below the total 2014 turnout, Democrat early ballots are running stronger than the GOP.
In other places, however, the difference between the latest numbers and the 2014 turnout is quite marked.
Most noticeable is Apache County, where total early voting is less than 8,400 to date, versus the 21,324 turnout four years ago. Much of that is likely due to the fact that more than two-thirds of the county is Native American, with Election Day considered more of a community event and gathering.