DES MOINES – State election officials confirmed Monday that the 1,589,899 Iowans who cast ballots last month was a record turnout for a presidential election.
The Iowa Executive Council, acting as the state’s Board of Canvass, approved 2012 general election results compiled by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office that showed 73.28 percent of the eligible electors cast ballots in a president race won in Iowa by Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney. The 2012 turnout topped the previous 2008 record by about 43,000 votes, election officials said.
The 822,544 votes received by the ticket of Obama and vice presidential running mate Joe Biden represented 51.99 percent of the Iowa vote, while the ticket of Romney and vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan polled 46.18 percent of the Iowa vote with 730,617 ballots cast.
Romney tallied more votes on Election Day with 462,059 cast for him on Nov. 6 compared to 416,631 for Obama, but the Democratic president won re-election on the strength of his absentee ballot edge over Romney, 405,913 to 268,558, according to certified election results.
A record 688,005 ballots were cast early or absentee in the 2012 presidential election. The Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and James Gray polled the most votes of any third-party candidates with 12,926 ballots, while 7,442 ballots contained write-in candidates while 2,485 spoiled ballots were marked for more than one presidential ticket and there were 5,234 ballots where Iowans did not register a preference for president.
With a record turnout, election officials said Iowa voters bucked a national trend that saw turnouts decline in many states compared to previous presidential election years. Gov. Terry Branstad attributed that to the interest generated by the state’s early entry into the process as the leadoff state in the presidential selection process and the civic-mindedness of Iowans who generally take a strong interest in the democratic process.
Fayette County posted the highest turnout with 84.53 percent while Fremont County was the lowest at 61.28 percent.
At Monday’s meeting, Branstad certified the results of the four congressional races so those certificates could be sent to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Executive Council members also must certify the results of legislative races and judicial retention votes. Three close legislative races have been resolved but the results weren’t available Monday to certify and special elections at slated in one Iowa Senate district and one Iowa House district to fill vacancies.