Spring election turnout around 34 percent, third highest spring turnout in more than a decade

The two spring elections with higher turnout were in 2008 and 2016, where both Republicans and Democrats voted on their presidential nominee
Vote sign

Turnout for the 2020 spring election was the highest it’s been since 2016 and the third highest in spring elections in more than a decade, according to early reports from the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The commission’s unofficial turnout was 34.3% for the April 7 election, about 7 percentage points higher than turnout in the 2019 spring election (27.2%).

It is the third highest turnout for spring elections in more than a decade, beaten out by the 2016 spring election (47.4%) and the 2008 spring election (34.9%), which both were dual-party presidential preference primaries also.

The last primary where one political party had already decided its presidential nominee, when former President Barack Obama ran for re-election in 2012, Wisconsin had 26.1% voter turnout, slightly more than 8 percentage points below 2020’s unofficial turnout.

The turnout coincided with record absentee voting. On Monday the state elections commission reported that 1.1 million absentee ballots were cast statewide, and 1.29 million absentee ballots were requested.

Numbers from the Dane County Clerk show 77.8% of voters voted absentee.