Jason Olson, Deseret News
A voter leaves Dixon Middle School after casting his ballot in Provo. An estimated 51-52 percent of Utah voters casting ballots on Election Day.

SALT LAKE CITY — Voter turnout for the Nov. 2 election was the highest in Utah since 1994 for a midterm election, with an estimated 51-52 percent of Utah voters casting ballots on Election Day.

"It won't be as high as 1994 (when turnout was 58 percent), but it's the highest since," said state elections director Mark Thomas on Tuesday, the last day for counties to canvass their respective election results.

While the final information will not be available until Wednesday morning, the canvass showed no races overturned.

Thomas said another trend that he had observed among counties that had completed the process was people who had voted early in previous elections this year voted by mail instead.

In Salt Lake County, more than 92,500 people voted by mail, roughly 25 percent of all ballots cast and nearly double the number of mail-in ballots in 2008, said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.

The highly contested 2nd District congressional race between incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson and Republican Morgan Philpot stirred interest in voting, as did the governor's race and "the mood of the Republican Party," Thomas said.

In Salt Lake County, the state's most populous county, turnout exceeded 54 percent, Swensen reported to the county council Tuesday. About 36 percent of Salt Lake County voters did so early, either by mail or in-person.

While 51-52 percent statewide is an improvement over previous years, Thomas said more work needs to be done to improve voter turnout rates, particularly among voters 18-29 years old. "This is, however, a turn in the right direction."

e-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

e-mail: marjorie@desnews.com