Iowa's 2020 election officially a record-breaker with over 1.7M votes cast

Mariannette Miller-Meeks also declared winner for Iowa's U.S. House seat by 6 votes

Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa representing the Miller-Meeks campaign the recount, watches alon
Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa representing the Miller-Meeks campaign the recount, watches along with Emily Silliman, a representative of the Hart campaign in the recount, as Todd Pettys, a law professor at the University of Iowa working with no campaign affiliation, sorts through ballots at the Johnson County Administration building in Iowa City on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The 2020 election was one for the record books.

More than 1.7 million Iowans cast ballots — a majority by absentee or early voting — to mark the highest turnout in Iowa’s electoral history. Nearly 76 percent of the eligible adults on Nov. 3 Election Day turned out to vote in a presidential election year, according to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

Pate, who also serves as Iowa’s commissioner of elections, said Iowa’s participation rate was one of the highest in the nation.

“We had a record-breaking turnout with more than 1.7 million Iowans casting a ballot,” Pate told members of the state Board of Canvass — made up of Pate, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, all Republicans, and State Auditor Rob Sand and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, both Democrats.

“More than a million Iowans voted absentee, which I think helped reduce the lines and crowds at the polls and helped slow the spread of COVID,” Pate added.

Voter turnout was 1,700,130, setting a new state record. The previous high was 1,589,951 set in 2012. Also, a total of 1,001,573 Iowans cast absentee ballots, another state record that accounted for 58.9 percent of all ballots.

Monday’s 2020 election results, which will be certified when all five board members sign the canvass documents by Thursday’s deadline, officially declared President Donald Trump Iowa’s winner in the presidential race with the GOP incumbent polling 897,672 to Democrat Joe Biden’s 759,061,

By virtue of his win, Trump gets Iowa’s six electoral votes when the Electoral College meets Dec. 14. Unofficially, Biden has garnered more electoral votes nationwide to claim the office effective Jan. 20.


Monday’s canvass also officially declared Sen. Joni Ernst as the winner in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. The first-term incumbent Republican received 864,997 votes to Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield’s 754,859 to win reelection for a second six-year term.

All 24 counties conducted a recount of results in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race. The official numbers following the recount showed Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks winning over Democrat Rita Hart by six votes, 196,964 to 196,958. There were 703 write-in ballots cast in that race.

The results in Iowa’s three other congressional races were:

• 1st Congressional District: Republican Ashley Hinson 212,088 to Democrat Abby Finkenauer’s 201,347

• 3rd Congressional District: Democrat Cindy Axne 219,205 votes for Republican David Young’s 212,997

• 4th Congressional District: Republican Randy Feenstra with 237,369 votes to Democrat J.D. Scholten’s 144,761.

Turnout in every Iowa county surpassed 65 percent, Pate said. Harrison County had the highest turnout percentage at 87.5 percent while 14 other counties topped 80 percent turnout: Benton, Bremer, Cedar, Dallas, Delaware, Fayette, Grundy, Harrison, Kossuth, Madison, Ringgold, Sioux, Warren, and Wayne.

“Despite the pandemic, we had record-breaking turnout in the June primary and November general election,” said Pate. “That shows once again that Iowans’ commitment to civic engagement is unrivaled.”

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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