TOPEKA — Kansas Democrats, who participated in unprecedented numbers in the party's presidential primary, overwhelmingly selected Joe Biden as their choice for president.


Biden already was the party's presumptive nominee when voting began in Kansas. The former vice president won 76.9% of 146,873 votes, leaving 23.1% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in the final tally of a new ranked-choice system for the state party.


The change from a caucus format and an aggressive push for mail-in ballots while the state was on lockdown for COVID-19 led to a dramatic increase in turnout for the party, which typically sees 8% to 10% participation in presidential primaries. Four years ago, the total turnout was 39,230.


This year, the vote total more than tripled as 34.7% of registered Kansas Democrats participated.


"The KDP offers its congratulations to former Vice President Joseph Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders for receiving delegates from the Sunflower State," said party chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. "Kansas Democrats made history in this election with record participation levels along with demonstrating how a vote-by-mail election can protect voters and our democracy, even in the most uncertain of times. We are confident the enthusiasm and engagement seen during the 2020 Primary will only continue to grow and translate into Democratic victories up and down the ballot in November."


Biden won 69% of votes in the first round of a ranked choice system. The candidate receiving the least votes is eliminated every round, with those votes going to the next choice on the ballot. Sanders won 18%, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren getting 8% and 1% going to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. About 3% declined to commit to a top choice.


Gabbard, uncommitted and Warren votes were redistributed over the course of three additional rounds.


"The Kansas Democratic Party will carry this record-breaking momentum into our robust coordinated campaign to elect Democrats who will fight for working families, health care reform and a future we all can be proud of in November," said Ben Meers, the party’s executive director.


District-level party officials will select delegates for the national convention later this month, and additional delegates will be chosen by party officials during the first week of June.