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For the first time in state history, Arizona Democrats are outpacing Republicans in early voting with just five days left until Election Day.
In Maricopa County — the Copper State's largest county and home to more than half of its 7.3 million population — election officials reported that Democrats accounted for three percentage points more of the 1.1 million ballots received through Monday than Republicans. Some 39% of ballots were cast by Democrats, The Arizona Republic reported.
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In a Wednesday statement, County Recorder Adrian Fontes said voters had already returned more early ballots than were received in all of 2016.
Over 2 million early ballots were requested this year, and more than 1.26 million have already been submitted, Fontes said. Four years ago, 1,251,975 Maricopa County voters cast their ballot during the entire early-voting period.
Election workers sort ballots Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
"Maricopa voters like to vote early, and this election has been no exception,” said Fontes. “We are seeing a record number of early ballots returned, and the enthusiasm is very exciting."
Although many Republicans plan to go to the polls in person on Election Day, Democrats are taking full advantage of early voting in their quest to win the historically red state for what would be only the second time since 1952.
President Trump won Arizona by 91,000 votes in 2016, capturing more than 48% of ballots compared with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 44%.
The popularity of Democratic nominee Joe Biden paired with a statewide demographic shift, however, has put Democrats back on the map.
Recent polling shows Biden holding a small but noticeable lead.
Of Maricopa County's 4.5 million residents, one-third identify as Latino, according to U.S. census data. In addition, more young voters have cast ballots in this year's presidential election than they did in 2016.
According to KTAR, more than 137,000 Arizonans ages 18 to 29 years have either voted by mail or in person, marking a 55% increase.
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KTAR reported Wednesday that the majority of young voters are Democrats.
This week, both Trump and Democratic vice presidential nominee California Sen. Kamala Harris visited Arizona cities, and Vice President Mike Pence will head to Flagstaff and Tucson airports at the end of the week.
Early voting in the state ends on Friday.
AZ Family reported at the beginning of the week that officials expect to complete their vote count sooner than in prior years.
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