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Iowa boasts record-breaking voter turnout for 2018 elections

Tuesday's elections drew a record-breaking number of voters to the polls--the most in Iowa's history, according to the state's chief elections official.

Over 1.3 million voters in Iowa cast their ballot Tuesday, which represents 61% of the electorate, said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. He said it's the highest turnout since 1994, which saw 64% turnout. But in terms of raw data of voters at the polls, this year tops the list.

“Iowans have also been voters—they believe in civic engagement," Pate said.

“To give you a key perspective, November was the highest in our history for registered voters for November voter registration. We were seeing over 2 million registered," he said.

Pate said Iowa's turnout is high for midterms, which historically draw fewer to the polls than presidential election years.

Iowa is mirroring a national trend with record-breaking turnout across the country as a whole. Early numbers show 48% of eligible voters cast ballots Tuesday, which is up from 2014 midterms that drew only 36% of voters to the polls.

“Trends are changing," Pate said, speaking to how Iowa's urban and rural areas are voting. He said his office is already starting to take a closer look at those trends—like demographics and numbers across Iowa’s 99 counties. What he can already say is that two counties had exceptionally high turnout compared to other years: Polk and Johnson counties, which are among the state's most populated.

“From the urban perspective, those to really pushed hard. I’d give it to the Democratic party, they put a lot of effort into those two counties," said Pate.

Pate also said there were a record number of voters voting absentee this year: more than 538,000, many of which were Democratic voters. These numbers, he said, likely mean higher turnout in 2020, too.

His office's website breaks down voter turnout by county. Some counties bucked the statewide trend like Rinngold County in southern Iowa, which boasted 71% turnout. A full map can be found here.

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