High voter turnout for 2020 primary election

Meghan Flynn
Local residents cast their ballots Tuesday at the Finney County Fairgrounds 4-H building during the 2020 primary election.

Voter turnout increased substantially in 2020 from the past two primaries.

Dori Munyan, Finney County clerk, said preliminary numbers from the 2020 primary on Aug. 4 show a 24% voter turnout.

In the 2016 primary there was a 36% turnout; however, there were only 11,000 registered voters, Munyan said. By the 2018 primary, there were more than 20,000 registered voters. The number was about the same for 2020.

“Our 2018 primary was a 15 percent turnout and then this year was the 24 percent,” she said. “Using that 20,000 voters as a base for both 2018 and 2020, we're actually up about 10 percent, about 10 points on voter turnout.”

Numbers were also up for early voting and mail-in ballots, Munyan said.

There were 866 early voters this year, Munyan said. In 2016, there were 362 early voters and 329 in 2018.

For mail-in ballots, 457 were sent out and 340 were received back by Aug. 3, Munyan said. They will continue to get mail-in ballots through the end of the week.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, people still showed up to vote in person.

Munyan said she believes the local contested races might have brought voters out.

“I think that, along with COVID, is what brought people to our building to vote early,” she said. “It was probably a little less crowded than the polling locations can be. I don’t really know how to attribute that, but I think definitely those contested races helped get people out.”

Despite COVID-19, the polls ran smoothly on Election Day, Munyan said. She contributes the smoothness to the four-person board of workers she hired to work the early voting polls.

“They were absolutely incredible, they learned a lot and then ... all of them went on to work Election Day,” she said. “They took all that experience they got during the early voting, took that to the polling locations, which I think helped as far as doing things right at the polling locations.”

In total, around 70 people worked the polling locations. Munyan commended all election workers for the day’s success.

"I Voted" stickers sit on a table waiting to be picked up after local residents cast their ballots Tuesday at the Finney County Fairgrounds 4-H building.