Utah’s voter turnout in this election certified as state’s highest on record

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) This Nov. 4, 2020, file photo shows ballots being sorted at the Salt Lake County offices in Salt Lake City. The state Board of Canvassers on Monday certified Utah's election results, which showed record turnout.

Utah’s voter turnout topped 90% in November’s presidential election, breaking records that stretch all the way back to 1960.

The final election totals — which were certified Monday — show that more than 1.5 million Utahns cast a ballot, far and away the highest number in the state’s history. It was also the largest turnout on record by percentage, with about 90.1% of the state’s 1.7 million active registered voters participating, according to the final outcome.

“When I became Lt. Governor, we were in the bottom 5 nationally for voter turnout,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, whose office oversees elections in the state, tweeted Monday. “Our #1 goal was to significantly change that. I can’t take any credit, but I’m so proud of my staff, clerks, legislators and VOTERS, who steadily turned that ranking around.”

Cox noted that Wayne County had the state’s highest participation levels, with about 93% of active registered voters turning out on Nov. 3. Juab County, where about 85% of active registered voters cast ballots, had the lowest turnout.

Cox also reported that 94% of Utah voters used a mail-in ballot this year, following the advice of local elections officials who urged people to avoid polling places when possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before this year, the state’s highest recorded participation rate was from the 1964 presidential election, when about 89.5% of registered voters weighed in on the race between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. It was the last time a Democratic presidential candidate won the state.

A high-interest presidential election drew voters to the polls in record numbers this year, with about 58% of Utahns supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. President-elect Joe Biden brought in about 38% of the Utah vote.

But the race in Utah’s 4th Congressional District was also closely watched. After days of vote counting following the election, Rep. Ben McAdams conceded a narrow defeat to his Republican challenger, Burgess Owens. The 376,701 votes in that race marked a nearly 40% increase from two years ago.

Utahns earlier this month also chose Cox as the state’s next governor over Democrat Chris Peterson and selected Republican Blake Moore as their new representative in the 1st Congressional District, to replace retiring Rep. Rob Bishop.