State elections officials are getting ready for a massive increase in voter turnout in 2020 after elections this year broke participation records across the country.
Secretaries of state have said in interviews that they paid close attention to elections in Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia this year. In fact all states where more voters than ever showed up for what are usually sleepy off-year contests. Several of the state officials said they had seen a sharp increase in turnout in their own backyards, even in nonpartisan school board elections.
Those results, along with higher-than-expected turnout in the 2018 midterms and polls that show voters are extremely enthusiastic about next year’s presidential election, are clear warnings to elections administrators who are already making preparations for what could be record-breaking turnout.
“We know there’s a fire that’s been lit out there, and we definitely saw [it] in Louisiana and Kentucky, some of the trends there,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), who is also president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We’re going to see an increase again from previous years, and we know we’d better be ready.”
In Louisiana, more than 1.5 million voters cast a ballot in last week’s gubernatorial runoff, a rate of just more than 50 percent. It was the highest number of votes cast in a gubernatorial election since 1995.
In Kentucky, 42 percent of registered voters turned out to vote earlier this month. The 1.4 million votes split between Gov.-elect Andy Beshear (D) and Gov. Matt Bevin (R) represent the largest number of ballots cast in a Kentucky gubernatorial election in the commonwealth’s 227-year history.
In Virginia, nearly 2.4 million voters showed up to cast ballots in state legislative elections, according to preliminary counts by the Department of Elections, a 42 percent turnout.
Administrators in other states say they are seeing the same kinds of interest at home. Pate pointed to school board election results that showed a 156 percent increase in voter turnout.