Iron County voter turnout hit a record 92.8% in 2020 general election

File photo of election ballots about to be mailed in Iron County, Utah, October 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — At a special meeting of the Iron County Commission on Tuesday, officials announced that Iron County saw a record turnout in the 2020 general election, with 92.8% of eligible voters casting ballots countywide.

Photo illustration | Photo by 3dfoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Shaneal Bess, the chief deputy county clerk, presented the commission with the county’s final vote canvass, with the official totals being unanimously approved by the commissioners.

Bess said not only did the percentage of voters casting ballots increase from 85.95% in the 2016 general election, but the number of registered voters in Iron County has also jumped by more than a third since then.

“Our numbers have grown a lot in the last four years,” Bess said, noting that the number of registered voters in Iron County in 2016 was 20,840, while the official number of registered voters on Election Day 2020 was 27,168.

The number of eligible voters went up even higher on Nov. 3 due to more than 1,100 people registering and casting provisional ballots on Election Day.

“That number did jump because of our provisional votes,” she said at the commission meeting. “Those are the same-day registration votes, and those are people that have never registered in the state of Utah or have needed to update their voter registration records.”

Stock image | Cedar City News / St. George News

Iron County Clerk Jonathan Whittaker later clarified that the provisional numbers are simply added to the number of votes cast in the election, even though the number of eligible voters isn’t adjusted until the next registration deadline passes, as they are entered on a separate, isolated system different from the one on which the ballots are tabulated.

Because of the way provisional ballots are added to the totals, they can cause voter turnout to exceed 100 percent, Whittaker said, noting that this actually did happen in Cedar City’s small Precinct 10, which saw its 214 registered voters cast a total of 217 ballots for a total turnout of 101.4%.

Additionally, Cedar City’s Precinct 17, with 456 registered voters, cast a total of 456 ballots for a turnout of exactly 100 percent.

According to the canvass summary, the turnout for most of the county’s 41 precincts was between the high 80s and mid-90s, percentage-wise. The lowest turnout was in Modena’s precinct, which had 74.3%.

“We were amazed at the impressive turnout. Even in the era of COVID-19, our voters really stepped up,” Whittaker said, thanking not only everyone who cast ballots but all the election volunteers who helped make sure the ballots were collected, counted and verified.

A total of 25,221 ballots were cast by Iron County voters in the 2020 election, with the vast majority of them (21,959) being by mail-in ballot. Another 706 voters took advantage of early in-person voting, while 1,435 voted in person on Election Day. In addition, another 1,121 provisional ballots were counted, with some 1,180 people registering on Election Day.

Just 179 of Iron County ballots were rejected – less than a tenth of one percent. Reasons for rejection included not signing the affidavit or the signature not matching to being registered to vote in another county. Two of the ballots that were mailed in were completely blank.

Following are Iron County’s final numbers for each of the major contested races on the ballot. Note that totals do not add up to 100 percent due to other candidates on the ballot and/or undervotes, where the voter didn’t select anyone for that particular race:

Final election results, Iron County

President / Vice President

  • Trump / Pence (R) 18,989 (75.3%)
  • Biden / Harris (D) 4,892 (19.4%)
  • Jorgensen / Cohen (L) 666 (2.6%)

Governor / Lt. Governor

  • Cox / Henderson (R) 17,650 (70%)
  • Peterson / Brown (D) 3,854 (15.3%)
  • Cottam / Short (L) 1,425 (5.6%)

Utah House District 72

  • Rex Shipp (R) 13,858 (70.6%)
  • Lonnie White (D) 3,149 (16%)
  • Piper Manesse (UU) 1,374 (7%)

Iron County School Board District 1

  • Dave Staheli 3,020 (53%)
  • Tessa Douglas 2,089 (37%)

Iron County School Board District 3

  • Jeff Corry 2,612 (47.3%)
  • Tiffiney Christiansen 2,443 (44.3%)

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

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