Washington County sees nearly 90% voter turnout, according to unofficial returns

ST. GEORGE — Unofficial ballot returns in Washington County place voter turnout at nearly 90% following Election Day.

Voters at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George, Utah, Oct. 28. 2020 | Photo by St. George News

Of Washington County’s approximately 100,000 registered voters, 88% voted in the 2020 general election. This is up from the 79% who voted in the 2016 election. However, that year the county had 80,200 registered voters with just over 63,100 of them voting.

Voter registration in the county is also up 10,000 since June, Washington County Clark/Auditor Kim Hafen said.

“The number of voters, not only registrations but the people that voted, was extraordinary,” he said.

Voting by mail is also considered to have played a factor in higher voter turnout than in recent years, though Hafen said this is the first presidential election the county has conducted primarily by mail. Washington County switched to voting by mail system in 2018.

“People were voting by mail, which is great. That’s what we hoped.” Hafen said.

A mail-in ballot gets turned in at the dropbox at the Washington County Administration Building, St. George, Utah, November 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Despite the move to mail-in ballots, residents were still able to vote in person at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George for early voting and on Election Day. While there was speculation on social media that the polling location would be overrun with voters Tuesday, both Hafen and Washington County Elections Clerk Melanie Abplanalp said voting went smoothly.

“It worked out wonderfully,” Abplanalp said Tuesday night while ballots from the day’s voting were totaled.

“We did have a line first thing in the morning, we always expect that, but by 7:20 a.m., it was maybe a five- or seven-minute wait at the most,” she said.

Around 5,000 people voted in person at the Dixie Center Tuesday, Hafen said.

Both Hafen and Abplanalp gave credit to the county’s election workers and volunteers for helping make Election Day run as smoothly as it did, especially during in-person voting.

“I want people to understand how wonderful the election workers are,” Abplanalp said. “They made everything flow just fine, made everyone comfortable and got them through the process quickly.”

Election workers aid voters as they move through voting stations at the Dixie Center on Election Day, St. George, Utah, Nov. 3, 2020 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“We can’t function without them,” Hafen said.

While Hafen said he was happy with this year’s voter turnout, he added it would be nice to see that translate to local and municipal elections, which generally do not garner the same level of attention that presidential elections do.

However, this is another area where going to a vote by mail system has seen increasing voter participation in recent years.

Hafen noted that some voters who have gone to the Vote.Utah.gov site to see if their ballot was counted said they haven’t been able to confirm they were counted due to site errors.

However, with the exception of provisional ballots still being counted and ballots with outstanding signature issues waiting to be remedied, Hafen said he can guarantee every vote cast in Washington County has been counted.

“Every ballot that we’ve received has been counted,” Hafen said. “I can guarantee you they’ve been counted.”

The county’s overall vote tallies and turnout will be made official in two weeks when the Washington County Commission approves the official canvass of the numbers.

Washington County’s unofficial election returns for the 2020 election can be found here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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