Following are some interesting numbers from the Presidential Primary Election… numbers that weren’t generally reported in the news:
    • Of Polk County’s 16,508 registered voters (including the 134 who registered on election day), 3,746 actually voted. That was 22.69%.
    • Of the 3,746 ballots cast, 2,196 were by absentee or mail ballot.
    • The mail ballot total (the 2,196) represented 58.62% percent of that group of voters. This was the highest percentage for the past 8 years.
    • More ballots were cast by mail than in any polling place.
    • The mail ballot total (that 2,196 number again) was far less than the 5,138 mail ballot votes that were cast in the 2018 mid-term General Election. But they were more than the 1,765 mail ballots cast in that year’s Primary Election.
    • There were 19 precincts in which 20 or less ballots were cast and 3 precincts in which 10 or less ballots were cast.
    • The highest percentage of voting occurred in the General Elections in 2012 (92.24%) and 2016 (90.59%). Both were presidential elections.
    • Of the 3,746 ballots cast, 2,085 were by voters who identified themselves as Democrats (55.66%) and 1,661 were by Republicans (44.34%).
    • Democrats split their votes between 15 candidates, including those who had withdrawn the candidacies. Of that group, Joseph Biden received 796 votes, Amy Klobuchar (who withdrew the day before the election) had 422 votes, Bernie Sanders had 400 and Michael Bloomberg had 171. Of Amy Klobuchar’s vote total of 422, those that had been cast prior to election day numbered 401.
    • Of Polk County’s 82 voting precincts, the voters in 57 of them now cast ballots by mail.
    • The 2020 Primary Election, which will include local positions when there are three or more candidates, will be held on Aug. 11. The General Election will be held on Nov. 3.
     What do the numbers mean?
     With the Primary and General Elections upcoming this year, you can determine what the numbers might mean, if anything. They were just kind of fun to look at.
    One thing the numbers show is the growth and popularity of mail balloting, which is available to non-metro townships of any size and to cities that have less than 400 registered voters.
    Besides usually resulting in greater participation in the election process, advantages for precincts that use mail voting are that the costs of training election judges and staffing the polling place on Election Day are eliminated. Using mail ballots also eliminates the expense of updating election equipment.
    By contrast, the cost of a mail ballot (including the postage of mailing about 5,000 ballots for each election) is approximately $2 per ballot.

A personal opinion
    I have always had a problem with the inability for voters to jump from one side of the ballot to the other.
    In primary elections, what difference does it make if someone supports candidates from different political parties?  If the “party people” are afraid that voters from the other side will decide their candidate for office, then they better get out and campaign for that personal favorite.
    The top two vote-getters should end up on the General Election ballot regardless of political party. Then let the winner take office.
    If there is one thing that can be certain about elections in Polk County it is that neither the Ruskies nor anyone else is going have any effect on their accuracy and validity, not if Michelle Cote and her staff have anything to say about it.
    Thoughts expressed in this column are those of the author and are not necessarily a reflection of the opinions of the other members of the Polk County Board of Commissioners