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Despite Coronavirus Concerns, Voter Turnout Up in Boone County

Rebecca Smith

Approximately 92,000 ballots were cast this election, up by about 7,000 from the 2016 Presidential election –  with the percentage of registered voters who participated in the county up by more than one percent, as well.

According to the Boone County Clerk’s office, 78 percent of active voters cast their ballot in 2016 – compared to nearly 80 percent this year.

Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon said she considers the higher turnout a win, and she partially attributes this to expanded absentee and mail-in voting options.

“I think there were more opportunities to be able to cast the ballot this year,” Lennon said. “With the expansion of absentee voting and mail-in voting, we tried really hard to make sure that we were in places that were accessible to people so that they could vote by going in weekend locations.”

According to Lennon’s office, nearly 29,000 absentee ballots were cast this year in Boone County – which is more than four times the amount of mail-in and absentee ballots cast in the county in the 2016 Presidential election.

In the state of Missouri, the voter turnout was up from about 67 percent in 2016, to about 70 percent this year. Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft said that while the percentage has increased from 2016, he still hopes even more people will vote in the future.

“Conversely, it means about three out of every 10 eligible voters didn't vote, so we're, you know, a little bit disappointed that they didn't participate,” Ashcroft said. “But it was definitely stronger than what we've seen in the recent past, and that's encouraging that people felt safe in voting, that people knew their vote would count.”

When it came to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on the election process, Lennon said that despite coronavirus precautions and more mail-in options, this didn’t complicate the election for her staff.

Ashcroft, on the other hand, said there was extra pressure on the state to get out information about changed processes, and that it increased the overall cost to the state. He added that after such a hectic election, his new hashtag would be “Make elections boring again in Missouri.”

Unofficial 70.12% turnout! All 116 local election authorities (LEAs) have reported unofficial tallies. LEAs have 2 weeks to certify their results to the SOS; then the Bd of Canvassers must meet by Dec. 8 to certify state results. #TrustedInfo2020 #VoteReady #MoVotes #moleg

— Missouri SOS Office (@MissouriSOS) November 4, 2020

Editor's note: Correction - The original post stated that voter participation was down eight percent this year - compared to the 2016 Presidential election - when in reality turnout was up more than one percent. The 2016 percentage of registered/active voters who participated was mistakenly compared to this year's (2020) percentage of participation compared to the total number of eligible voters, NOT percentage of registered/active voters.