DES MOINES — State election officials confirmed Monday that the 1,589,899 Iowans who cast ballots last month was a record turnout for a presidential election.
The Iowa Executive Council, acting as the state’s Board of Canvass, approved 2012 general election results compiled by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office that showed 73.28 percent of the eligible electors cast ballots in a presidential race won in Iowa by Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney. The 2012 turnout topped the 2008 record by 43,000 votes, election officials said.
The 822,544 votes received by the ticket of Obama and vice presidential running mate Joe Biden represented 51.99 percent of the Iowa vote; the ticket of Romney and vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan polled 46.18 percent of the Iowa vote with 730,617 ballots cast.
Romney tallied more votes on Election Day with 462,059 cast for him on Nov. 6 compared to 416,631 for Obama, but the Democratic president won re-election on the strength of his early voting edge over Romney, 405,913 to 268,558, according to certified election results.
A record 688,005 ballots were cast early or absentee in the 2012 presidential election. The Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and James Gray polled the most votes of any third-party candidates with 12,926 ballots. A total of 7,442 ballots contained write-in candidates, 2,485 spoiled ballots were marked for more than one presidential ticket, and 5,234 ballots did not register a preference for president.
Iowa was an anomaly in the 2012 presidential election with a higher turnout when most of the nation saw total votes decline from previous presidential years. Gov. Terry Branstad attributed that to the interest generated by the state’s early entry into the process as the lead-off state in the presidential selection process and the civic-mindedness of Iowans.
Fayette County posted the highest turnout with 84.53 percent, and Fremont County was the lowest at 61.28 percent.
At Monday’s meeting, Branstad certified the results of the four congressional races so those certificates could be sent to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Executive Council members also must certify the results of legislative races and judicial retention votes. Three close legislative races have been resolved, but the results weren’t available Monday to certify, and special elections are scheduled in one Iowa Senate district and one Iowa House district to fill vacancies.