WORTHINGTON — With choices to be made at the city, county, state and national level, Nobles County voters were intent on making their voice heard in the 2020 election.
According to Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer Joyce Jacobs, 82.15% of the county’s possible voters — 8,797 of 10,709 — used their voting right to elect or re-elect our leaders.
Of the 8,797 ballots cast, 5,707 were from mail ballot precincts and absentee ballot voters. This represents 64.87% of total votes cast. Voting in-person on election day were 3,090 Nobles County residents (35.13%).
While 82.15% voter turnout seems high, it’s actually in line with the presidential elections of 2016, when 81.77% of eligible voters cast ballots and in 2012, when 80.31% of voters voted.
Jacobs also notes that there were 10,072 voters registered in the county by Oct. 13, with 627 new voters registered between Oct. 14 and Nov. 3. The number of newly registered voters in the three weeks prior to election day this year was nearly half of the number of the 1,188 new voters who registered in 2016 for the last presidential election, and significantly below the 1,548 new voters who registered in the same period in 2012.
The greatest difference between the last three presidential elections is the number of mail and absentee ballots cast versus in-person voting at the polls. In 2016, 1,416 Nobles County residents (16.15%) voted by mail or absentee, compared to 7,353 (83.85%) polling place voters. In 2012, just 10.29% of voters cast their ballot by mail or absentee, compared to 89.71% at the polling place. Changes in the number of mail ballot precincts and rules making it easier to vote by absentee ballot have made an impact, but the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a role in voters’ decisions to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election.
Jacobs said 14 ballots of the 5,707 cast by mail ballot, absentee and military ballots were rejected. Of those 14, five of them were postmarked after Nov. 3, two ballots were rejected because the individual moved and no longer resided at the address on the ballot, two individuals did not return the required voter registration application with their ballot, and five ballots were missing witness information, which is required for newly registered voters. Only two ballots were rejected from mail ballot voters, she added.
Her office called, emailed and/or texted voters if they failed to provide the necessary information on their signature envelope, but could only do so if the voter provided a working phone number or email address.
“I wish we would have tracked how many votes we were able to count due to our staff making countless calls or emails to get voters in for missing signatures or other information,” Jacobs said.
She also noted that 209 ballots were spoiled or lost and had to be reissued — including 167 ballots sent to mail ballot precincts that voters said they either threw away or never received.