Linn and Johnson county voters turned out in record numbers for Tuesday’s general election. But the news wasn’t all good for Linn County.
With 117,945 votes in late Tuesday night, Linn County sailed past the 2008 record of 112, 258 ballots — yet the more-than 5,000 voter gain still yielded a lower turnout percentage than those who showed up at the polls in 2008. This year, only 76.4 percent of Linn County’s registered voters cast their ballots, down from 77 percent in 2008.
Tim Box, Linn County’s deputy auditor, struggled to find a single cause for the increased number of voters yet with a lower percentage in turnout.
“It sounds like overall interest was down,” he said. “Otherwise we would’ve had higher turnout at the polls as well.”
Box didn’t think the cold, drizzly weather was to blame, nor did he blame the fact that Tuesday’s general election was the first following county redistricting.
“We’ve had two countywide elections since we redistricted, and I think that gave people a lot of time to find their new precinct,” Box said.
The news was a lot more consistent in Johnson County, however, where 75,463 voters turned out for this year’s races. That’s a more than 2,000-voter gain from 2008.
That means 82.58 percent of Johnson County voters participated in Tuesday’s election — an increase of more than 3 percdnt from the 79.41 percent who turned out in 2008.
Johnson County also saw a jump in the number of absentee votes cast, with 43,407 voters, or 57.52 percent, shirking the polls. That number was only 40,605 in 2008.
“That’s partly due to increasing acceptance of voting early and also because it’s a tremendous advantage to political campaigns and committees for organizational purposes,” Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett said. “It’s a win-win situation for the political organization and the voters who agree with them.”
Slockett noted that the increase in early votes means a heavier workload in the auditor’s office, but it’s a burden he and his staff are happy to bear.
“We put a lot of time and energy into preparing for an election, and we appreciate it when the voters are able to take advantage of our efforts,” he said.