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SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 80 percent of all active registered Salt Lake County voters cast ballots in 2018, which isn’t far off the 83.7 percent turnout in the 2016 Presidential election. Voter turnout was a little more than 40 percent in 2017 and only 52 percent of voters showed up for the last midterm election in 2014.
Weber County reported more than 77 percent voter turnout for this year’s election, according to state data, which was roughly double of last year’s turnout of 40 percent and close to the 85.7 percent turnout in 2016. Much like Salt Lake, the voter turnout during the last midterm election was low, at 38.9 percent.
Then there’s Iron County in southern Utah, which counted 74 percent voter turnout this year compared to roughly 44 percent in 2014.
OK, you probably get the trend and so are election officials across Utah. That’s because they’ve stopped comparing this year’s election results to previous midterm elections. Voter turnout in 2018 was so significant, it almost mirrored presidential election numbers for much of the state.
“We stopped comparing the numbers to midterm elections almost on Election Day because the numbers were so high,” said Justin Lee, the state’s director of elections, prior the Monday’s final canvass. “There’s no question we’re seeing the highest midterm (voter turnout) we’ve ever seen.”
In all, 75.55 percent of Utah’s 1.4 million registered voters cast a ballot in the 2018 election — a slight decline from 82 percent in 2016 and well ahead of the 46.25 percent in 2014, according to state data.
In all, 52 percent of all Utahns who were eligible to vote cast a ballot. In comparison, presidential elections have averaged 57.14 percent, while the average for midterm elections was roughly 35 percent since the state began tracking that statistic in 2000.
It’s hard to tell what exactly caused the abnormal spike in midterm voting this year. However, with a Senate seat, four congressional seats and four compelling initiatives on the ballot, there was plenty for Utahns across the state to vote on.
“It’s always hard to get inside a voter’s head and know exactly why they were voting, but I think it’s a combination of vote-by-mail — we’ve seen that increase voter participation — and the ballot propositions were something new and something we haven’t seen in years’ past,” Lee said. “(Voters) certainly had a lot of interest in those, and then just the general interest in the midterm elections."
Here’s how each county voted
Highest turnout: Grand County (84.50 percent)
Five counties tallied more than 80 percent voter turnout among active registered voters in 2018, according to the final canvass data released by Utah State Elections on Monday.
Lowest turnout: Utah County (67.25 percent)
It’s clear voter turnout was strong across the state, as each county reported at least two-thirds of its active registered voters cast a ballot this year — shattering midterm norms. Utah and Duchesne were the only counties in the state that tallied less than 70 percent voter turnout among active registered voters.