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States that had the highest 2020 voter turnout

  • States that had the highest 2020 voter turnout

    The election of 2020 will be one that many Americans won’t soon forget. Millions of voters tuned into cable and broadcast news networks on Nov. 3, ready to dissect maps, blue states and red states, and the possibilities of swings when major precincts reported results. However, with unprecedented voter turnout and millions of more mail-in ballots to record than usual, election results took days to tally, and America went to sleep on election night unsure of the winner of the presidential race.

    The 2020 election was unlike any other in American history. There were the polarized policies of progressives and conservatives, but the coronavirus pandemic was the primary cause for changing the dynamics of this voting season. With many states enforcing strict stay-at-home policies and scores of Americans not wanting to risk the spread or infection of COVID-19, many more people than usual voted by mail, drop boxes, or at polling stations before the actual Election Day.

    As a result, many states saw record-high turnouts. Using data from the U.S. Elections Project—ballot totals last updated Dec. 7, 2020, Stacker compiled data on voter turnout in every state, including early voting and mail-in ballot voting. Each state and Washington D.C. was ranked on the total ballots counted out of the voter-eligible population. The early voting and mail-in ballot data was taken from state election websites as of Nov. 23, but may not reflect final vote counts if the state did not report that information. Additionally, some states do not differentiate between early in-person ballots and mail-in ballots.

    Despite the large turnout, many states still have improvements to be made. Decisions on whether or not early balloting will be accepted on such a wide scale going forward is a key concern in several battleground states, while some states in the South drew criticism for what progressives view as arcane rules around registering. All that data and more is included, so click through to find out where your state ranked nationwide in 2020 voter turnout.

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  • #51. Oklahoma

    - Total ballots counted: 1,565,000 (55% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 2,845,835
    - Total ballots cast early: 448,070
    --- Early in-person ballots: 167,185
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 280,885
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    In recent elections, Oklahoma has been last in the nation in voter turnout. Voting experts have criticized the state for not ensuring as many people vote as possible, and Oklahoma’s status as essentially being a one-party state—heavily Republican—likely doesn’t help matters. An online registration system was approved by the state legislature, but has not been implemented.

  • #50. Arkansas

    - Total ballots counted: 1,223,675 (56.1% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 2,182,375
    - Total ballots cast early: 912,688
    --- Early in-person ballots: 794,394
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 118,294
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Cleveland County had the highest percentage of voter turnout at 77.77%, while only 43.1% of voters came out in Scott County, the lowest percentage in the state. Experts said one reason for the low voter turnout was that major races in the state were not competitive.

  • #49. Hawaii

    - Total ballots counted: 579,784 (57.5% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 1,007,920
    - Total ballots cast early: 551,036
    --- Early in-person ballots: data not available
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 551,036
    - Winning presidential candidate: Joe Biden

    While more of Hawaii’s citizens turned out for the general election than ever before, the numbers compared to national percentages are not breathtaking. The state did undertake a campaign to encourage residents to vote early, and a majority of voters sent in ballots by mail. Some voters had to wait in line for six hours to vote on Election Day.

  • #48. West Virginia

    - Total ballots counted: 802,726 (57.6% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 1,394,028
    - Total ballots cast early: 145,127
    --- Early in-person ballots: data not available
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 145,127
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Absentee ballots were high in West Virginia, and only in the 1960 presidential election did more residents vote. Almost half of all votes were recorded before Election Day, but several county clerks rejected the idea of expanding absentee ballot voting.

  • #47. Tennessee

    - Total ballots counted: 3,065,000 (59.8% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 5,124,867
    - Total ballots cast early: 2,280,767
    --- Early in-person ballots: 2,070,339
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 210,428
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Tennessee has challenges to overcome in achieving a higher voter turnout. It is one of the few states that request racial identification on a voter registration application. Some in Tennessee also believe voting rights restoration for felons needs fixing.

     

  • #46. Mississippi

    - Total ballots counted: 1,325,000 (60.2% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 2,201,950
    - Total ballots cast early: 231,031
    --- Early in-person ballots: data not available
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 231,031
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Wait times of over three hours hampered some polling locations in Mississippi. Still, that didn’t prevent Black residents in certain parts of Mississippi to vote in record numbers.

  • #45. Texas

    - Total ballots counted: 11,350,000 (60.4% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 18,784,280
    - Total ballots cast early: 9,705,090
    --- Early in-person ballots: 8,767,535
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 937,555
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Texas Democrats hoped a higher voter turnout would swing their state blue, but that was not the case. The state had to deal with lawsuits to throw out 127,000 early ballots, and studies have shown Texas to have one of the country’s most restrictive voting environments. Some lawmakers are trying to pass new voter accessibility bills to increase future turnouts.

  • #44. New Mexico

    - Total ballots counted: 928,230 (61.3% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 1,515,355
    - Total ballots cast early: 788,175
    --- Early in-person ballots: 467,709
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 320,466
    - Winning presidential candidate: Joe Biden

    New Mexico experienced a growing divide between urban and rural voters, causing bigger turnouts than normal. Democrats are increasingly gaining strength in the state’s urban centers. New Mexico is one of the states where President Trump filed an election lawsuit, claiming there was illegal use of ballot drop boxes.

  • #43. Indiana

    - Total ballots counted: 3,068,542 (61.4% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 5,000,007
    - Total ballots cast early: 1,834,992
    --- Early in-person ballots: 1,328,039
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 506,953
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    For the first time in Indiana history, more than 3 million voters cast ballots in an election. About 60% of those ballots were absentee, and while the state’s overall number is low nationwide, for the first time this century every Indiana county reported a turnout of over 50%.

  • #42. Alabama

    - Total ballots counted: 2,325,000 (63.1% of the voter-eligible population)
    - Voting-eligible population: 3,683,055
    - Total ballots cast early: 300,402
    --- Early in-person ballots: data not available
    --- Mail-in ballots returned: 300,402
    - Winning presidential candidate: Donald Trump

    Republicans drove Alabama’s record-high voter turnout. As opposed to many states, Alabama still relied heavily on in-person voting, although absentee ballots were used at a record pace. Alabama is one of two states that requires residents to mark their race on voter registration forms.