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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Secretary of State releases turnout analysis of primary election

Sam Reed's office has just released an turnout analysis for the state primary. The report highlights the role of ballot issues and voting styles.

Here's State Elections Director Nick Handy:
Typically, voter turnout is driven by races and measures that appear on the ballot. If you look at an election year with a President or Governor on the ballot, more than 80% of voters respond. But odd-year primaries typically produce the lowest turnouts in the elections cycle.
Here's how Reed's prediction matched up against actual voter turnout:
The Office of the Secretary of State estimates that roughly 28% of voters eligible to participate in Washington ’s August Primary cast ballots. The Office of the Secretary of State predicted a turnout of approximately 34% prior to the Primary Election.
And here are statistics from county comparisons. This data is very interesting because it shows a sharp contrast between municipalities.
Without question, issues motivated Washingtonians to vote in August.

Lincoln County reports the highest estimated turnout at roughly 70%. On primary ballots in Lincoln County were two contested mayoral races in the cities of Odessa and Elmira.

Franklin County reports the lowest estimated turnout at nearly 22%. In Franklin County, many voters only had one issue on the ballot.
As Handy observes:
Clearly, voters participated in greater numbers in counties with headline-gabbling races. All elections, especially those that impact our communities and our homes most directly are important. But the reality is voters usually respond to high-profile issues and races.
More numbers from the report:
While Chelan County reports a projected turnout of 50%, neighboring Douglas County ’s turnout is likely to reach 25%. Chelan County voters decided a high-profile school construction levy, while fewer key issues appeared on the Douglas County ballot.

Mason County has an estimated turnout of 44%, where voters were deciding a high-profile fire district levy and a contested mayoral race in the city of Shelton.

In neighboring Thurston County, the projected turnout estimate is only 26%, with fewer high interest races or issues on the ballot.
Reed's office notes that none of the preliminary returns are final until counties certify their election results on September 5, 2007. Five counties did not hold primary elections at all, and about 80% of registered voters statewide live in precincts that had something on their primary ballot last Tuesday.

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