Ward County voters demonstrate engagement

Reports of lines to cast ballots during early voting and quite a crowd at the Minot Municipal Auditorium Armory on Tuesday certainly made it appear that local election participation was going to be brisk – at least more so than the usual mid-term election.

As it turns out, voter participation was good, demonstrating just how engaged voters were in this year’s process.

Just under 50 percent of voters in Ward County voted. The Secretary of State’s office statistics show 24,363 ballots cast for a 46.1 percent turnout rate. However, additional postmarked absentee ballots are likely to be added following canvassing next week.

How does that compare to a few past elections?

In the last nonpresidential election in 2014, unofficial results following polling showed 19,238 voters for about a 39 percent turnout rate. Turnout was 19,296 or 44.5 percent in 2010. The presidential election in 2016 showed 27,708 voters for a 52 percent turnout rate in unofficial results.

While we did not set any new standard, nor reach the 56 percent turnout statewide, it certainly proves that voters were unusually interested in the 2018 ballot. It’s impossible to know if local issues and races were the inspiration – or what combination of both. In any event, it is a step in the right direction considering many have opined that voter apathy has been a problem in our area. While 50 percent-plus turnout would be tremendous and higher than that spectacular, there are always going to be those who don’t or won’t participate. Hopefully, though, turnout will continue to improve in future elections.

Meanwhile, Ward County had a good showing.

Also with a good showing – the folks helping out at the Armory on Tuesday. Despite a line that periodically stretched outside the door and into the damp, cold, the process was largely effective, people did move quickly and the wait was nowhere near what it could be if it were less well-managed. Well done.