Among the great things about the aftermath of an election are the numbers.
Election outcomes are to a statistician what a candy store is to kids. There’s plenty to look at and lots to enjoy.
For Tuesday’s contests, we were especially impressed with the voter turnout. Almost 57 percent of the 70,854 registered voters in Cochise County cast a ballot. That’s consistent with the statewide total — nearly 65 percent — and significantly higher than the national turnout at 49 percent.
In Cochise County, we can attribute some of that higher turnout percentage to the work done by Recorder David Stevens, who has spent the first two years of his term cleaning up the voter list. Stevens had his office focus on removing voters who haven’t cast a ballot in years and those who are no longer county residents. He did so to reduce overall election costs, but another consequence of that effort was evident on Tuesday when the turnout percentage reached close to 57 percent.
For the 2014 midterm in Cochise County, the turnout was about 54 percent, with about 3,000 fewer votes being cast.
Statewide, the midterm produced a record turnout and almost 600,000 ballots — of the approximate 2.4 votes cast — still needed to be counted by the week’s end. We won’t know a more precise outcome in the contest between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for the U.S. Senate seat until Wednesday, or later, according to state election officials.
It was the same in Sierra Vista, where approximately 3,000 ballots, most of which were dropped off at vote centers on Election Day, still needed to be opened, verified, then tabulated in the mayoral race.
A misunderstanding of that process prompted challenger Craig Mount to offer his congratulations to incumbent Rick Mueller on Tuesday night. Once it became clear that there will still lots of ballots left to count, Mount realized he was still in the hunt and the election wasn’t over.
We were also struck by the number of early ballots recorded in this election.
That percentage keeps increasing. This time, three out of every four ballots cast in Tuesday’s election were from early voters — about 75 percent.
The convenience of voting early and the growing confidence among voters in this process has fostered this increase. It’s taken a few years, but voters are recognizing that getting a ballot early, studying the document, then dropping it off or mailing it back is a better way to vote.
We as citizens — as a county and as a state and country — can be proud of the number of people who voted in this recent election. Registered voters participated in the process, and the system worked.
Voting really did make a difference.