Douglas County turnout likely set off-year record

State issues, school race motivated voters

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Douglas County voters likely set a new off-year voter turnout record during the Nov. 5 election, according to county Clerk and Recorder Jack Arrowsmith.

Numbers won’t be final until the Board of Canvass, which certifies the election results, meets Nov. 21, but unofficial numbers show more than 50 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

About 190,000 ballots were mailed and 106,812 returned, unofficial results show.

“I think our next highest was 2009, which was about 47 percent,” Arrowsmith said. “For an off-year election, I believe this is going to break records in terms of our turnout.

“We had two controversial state questions on the ballot and four controversial school board seats. I’m sure all of that stimulated turnout.”

No school board candidate enjoyed a landslide victory. Douglas County Republican-endorsed candidates Doug Benevento, Jim Geddes, Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn won by percentages ranging from about 52 to 53.5 percent.

In each of the four school board races, more than 6,000 people voted on other issues but chose neither candidate; 35 people voted for both candidates.

While challenger candidate Julie Keim’s campaign manager initially said she would ask for a recount on election night, Keim later said they would not proceed with the request. Arrowsmith said the numbers suggest it wouldn’t alter the results.

“The automatic recount point is half of 1 percent,” he said. “In our closest race, the difference was 6.9 percent — way larger. People can request a recount if they’re willing to pay for it, but I can’t really see how there would be a change in that many votes.”

Of those who voted, about 47 percent were Republicans, nearly 20 percent Democrats and 32 percent unaffiliated. Those numbers mirror almost exactly the makeup of Douglas County’s registered voters, which stands at 46 percent Republican, 20 percent Democrat, and 34 percent for all others.

Another unusual aspect of the Nov. 5 election: Though it was a mail-in ballot, 23,259 ballots — almost 12 percent of the total votes cast — came in on Election Day. Adjacent counties recorded a similar trend, Arrowsmith said.

The Nov. 5 turnout still pales in comparison to a presidential year election, Arrowsmith said, which he described as typically “off the charts in Douglas County” at about 90 percent.

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