Summit County voters surpass 2016 turnout, opt for mail-in ballots
KEYSTONE — Unofficial election results show that Summit County voters beat 2016 election turnout on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
More than 18,500 votes — 86.6% of active voters in Summit County — were cast by 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State’s reporting of unofficial results. In 2016, the last presidential election, that number was 16,645, which was 81.3% of all active voters in the county, according to the Secretary of State.
Summit County’s turnout also surpassed the average turnout for the state, 78.8%, according to the Secretary of State website. In 2016, 85.6% of active voters across the state turned out to vote.
Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel said the increased turnout is on par with what has been the trend for the past few elections.
“We’ve been seeing an increase in voter turnout in the last couple of years,” Neel said. “Across the country, people were fired up about the election, and that is why there was a big voter turnout.”
Although mail-in voting has been a part of Colorado elections for seven years, this year it became an increasingly popular choice on the national level, with officials urging people to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus.
Of the more than 18,500 votes the county has tallied so far, 17,089 were submitted via mail-in ballots. On Election Day, 859 people voted in person, while 2,147 opted to drop their ballots off at one of the county’s drop boxes.
“Our voter turnout by mail continually increases every year,” Neel said. “It’s just so much easier for people to vote by mail. They can take their time and stick it in a drop box and not have to worry about it.”
Neel said the county also has seen an increase in voter registration. Since Jan. 1, 3,358 people have registered to vote in the county.
“It seems like there’s always a big increase (in registrations) before a presidential election,” Neel said.
The majority of voters, 4,895, were in the 60-plus age group. People ages 18-25 accounted for the fewest votes, with 1,481 ballots returned in that age group.
Across the board, Summit County voters chose Democratic candidates. In the presidential race, 68.4% of Summit County’s votes went to former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.
In statewide races, 66.2% of Summit County votes went to former Gov. John Hickenlooper, 65.4% of votes went to Rep. Joe Neguse, 65.1% of votes went to Karl Hanlon and 68.2% went to state Rep. Julie McCluskie. Hanlon is the only one of those candidates who did not win his race Tuesday. He’s currently trailing Sen. Bob Rankin in a race that’s too close to call.
Overall, Tuesday was a long but smooth day for the county’s election team, Neel said. Poll workers were able to be home by 10:30 p.m. with no hiccups or delays, she said.
“We have such great election judges, so dedicated and hardworking and a wonderful staff,” she said. “It went really, really well.”
In many ways, Neel and her team’s job during the election has just begun. Aside from cleaning up the polling places, the election workers now have to go through the process of canvassing and certifying votes.
That process requires the election officials to certify the votes and signatures. The official voting numbers won’t be available until Thanksgiving, Neel said.
The county is also continuing to receive ballots that were dropped off in other counties, Neel said. Voters in Colorado can drop off their ballot at any location in the state by Election Day. Summit County is now in the process of counting the votes from local ballots that were dropped off elsewhere.
“I don’t expect any of that to change the results,” Neel said.
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