Official Election Day tally puts voter turnout at ‘unprecedented’ 91% for Washington County

ST. GEORGE — The voter turnout for the 2020 general election in Washington County stands at just over 91% according to the official canvas approved Tuesday by the County Commission.

Washington County Clerk/Auditor Kim Hafen shares the official canvas results of the 2020 election with the Washington County Commission, St. George, Utah, Nov. 17, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“For 2020 we counted 91,594 ballots, which is a turnout of over 91%, which is kind of unheard of for us,” Washington County Clerk/Auditor Kim Hafen told the Washington County Commission as he presented the final official tally of the ballots cast in the county.

By comparison, the last general election with a presidential race in 2016 had a 78% voter turnout. In 2018, the first year the county completely shifted to voting by mail, the turnout was around the same.

“Those were very good numbers, but this is kind of unprecedented, this new election,” Hafen said.

Unofficial numbers following Election Day set the county at around 88% voter turnout.

There are 100,197 registered voters in the county, with 10,000 of those being new additions since the end of June. From those voters, 91,594 ballots were submitted, making for a turnout of 91.4%, according to the official canvas.

The updated numbers include around 10,000 ballots counted following Election Day, Hafen said. The majority of those came from the county’s ballot dropboxes.

Over 2,000 provisional ballots were cast at the Dixie Convention Center polling location as well. Of those, 1,812 out of 2,044 were counted, with the remainder not being counted for various reasons, Hafen said, as well as nearly 1,000 additional ballots that were not counted due to coming in the mail late, having signature issues that went unresolved or requiring voter identification that went unprovided.

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

The updated voting results didn’t change the outcome of any of the races in the county, Hafen said, noting that the general percentage of how the county voted remained largely the same as previous elections.

In general, approximately 62-63% of the voters are Republicans, 22% are independents and 10-11% are Democrats, with the remainder of voters registered with third parties.

There had been speculation that as the county grew, the Democratic vote could see same gains, but that hasn’t happened, Hafen said.

“Typically, Republican candidates with an opponent get between 73-78% of the ballots in Washington County, and this years has been no different,” he said.

For example, President Donald Trump took 74% of the county vote to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 22.5%. This repeated for the majority of the Republicans on the ballot for federal, state and local races. They garnered at least 73% of the vote and above.

The only exception was the governor’s race, where Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox took 69% of the vote.

Receiving nearly 3,000 write-in votes for governor was Madeline Kazantzis, a feat Hafen said was impressive.

Election workers (in the yellow vests) 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

“It’s not nearly enough votes to win, but it’s a pretty significant number when you think of what people need to do to vote that way, so that was a pretty good effort,” he said.

While reporting on the official election returns, Hafen gave credit to local members of the U.S. Postal Service for the role they played in the election.

“They were excellent here,” Hafen said. “They were responsive, they were efficient, they were early in the day, and they were consistent day in and day out.”

Soon after, Hafen become emotional as he praised the efforts of all those who helped with the election this year.

“I’ve got people who work for me that are unbelievable. They work long hours, take a lot of crap from a lot of people. We have great poll workers,” he said, specifically citing Washington County Administrator Nicole Felshaw and her staff and other county employees, including the assessor, the library staff and GIS.

“When I see the dedication and the things people will do to make the election happen as it should, it’s just kind of mind-boggling. … I am so grateful for all those who came to help.”

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

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