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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Counties certify November general election; 2015 turnout is the worst in state history

Well, it’s offi­cial: The 2015 gen­er­al elec­tion has now been cer­ti­fied by Wash­ing­ton State’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties, and as we pro­ject­ed ear­li­er this month, turnout end­ed up between 38% and 39% (to be pre­cise, 38.45% statewide), which means it’s offi­cial­ly the worst in record­ed state his­to­ry.

The pre­vi­ous low of 40.18% was set in 1985.

Below is a table show­ing turnout by coun­ty, sort­ed from best to worst. Tiny Garfield Coun­ty had the best turnout in the state, sur­pass­ing 60%, while Yaki­ma Coun­ty had the worst… 32.70%. Both coun­ties are locat­ed east of the Cas­cade Moun­tains.

Sno­homish Coun­ty, which was a turnout lag­gard ear­ly on, man­aged to improve its show­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly and come in ahead of Pierce Coun­ty.

King Coun­ty best­ed most of the state’s swing coun­ties with respect to turnout this year, run­ning ahead of the statewide aver­age. The only major swing coun­ties that did bet­ter than King were What­com and Spokane.

Coun­tyReg­is­tered Vot­ers Vot­ers Vot­ingTurnout Per­cent­age
Garfield1,54493660.62%
Lin­coln6,8063,93257.77%
San Juan12,1777,00957.56%
Jef­fer­son23,02112,67655.06%
Colum­bia2,6341,39352.89%
Pend Oreille8,4334,14449.14%
Wahki­akum2,9591,43248.39%
Clal­lam47,50922,86348.12%
Pacif­ic13,5236,41047.4%
Fer­ry4,5732,16447.32%
What­com129,34561,13647.27%
Island50,53122,88445.29%
Grays Har­bor38,64717,49445.27%
Okanogan21,2849,48344.55%
Whit­man20,5209,07944.24%
Chelan40,54817,82343.96%
Stevens29,07212,77343.94%
Asotin13,1145,73343.72%
Skag­it69,29929,78442.98%
Spokane286,245120,46042.08%
Mason35,83914,64140.85%
Klick­i­tat13,3365,44740.84%
Kit­ti­tas22,3209,11540.84%
Ska­ma­nia7,1302,91140.83%
Lewis43,79517,81240.67%
Dou­glas19,6707,88240.07%
Grant36,71214,53439.59%
King1,193,706467,60839.17%
Adams6,2042,42439.07%
Wal­la Wal­la32,21912,39238.46%
Kit­sap154,35558,94038.18%
Thurston164,55560,87236.99%
Sno­homish422,871146,97334.76%
Pierce450,941153,36834.01%
Clark251,52885,54134.01%
Cowlitz59,48319,88733.43%
Franklin30,70210,24233.36%
Ben­ton99,53932,61632.77%
Yaki­ma108,26335,40332.7%
Statewide Total3,974,9521,528,21638.45%

Here is an overview of the 2015 gen­er­al elec­tion in King Coun­ty:

  • Reg­is­tered vot­ers: 1,193,706
  • Bal­lots issued: 1,204,515
  • Bal­lots returned: 474,363
  • Bal­lots count­ed: 467,608
  • Bal­lots cast on acces­si­ble vot­ing units: 274
  • Bal­lots returned to drop box­es: 124,837
  • Sig­na­tures ini­tial­ly chal­lenged: 4,911
  • Sig­na­ture chal­lenges resolved: 2,803
  • Bal­lots returned too late: 4,439
  • Bal­lots returned as unde­liv­er­able: 11,875
  • Calls to vot­er hot­line: 4,141
  • Emails from vot­ers: 853

The above data is cour­tesy of King Coun­ty Elec­tions.

Even though King Coun­ty has a pal­try num­ber of bal­lot drop box­es, it’s inter­est­ing to note that more than a quar­ter of all bal­lots were still returned to drop box­es.

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of bal­lots were reject­ed because they were returned too late… over four thou­sand, as a mat­ter of fact. That’s an absurd­ly high num­ber. Had those bal­lots count­ed, it would have pushed turnout high­er.

“We had hoped for a big­ger turnout and appre­ci­ate the vot­ers who got their bal­lots in,” said Sher­ril Huff, direc­tor of King Coun­ty Elec­tions, in a news release. “We are always look­ing for ways to pro­mote vot­er engage­ment and antic­i­pate that next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will see a dra­mat­ic increase in turnout.”

King Coun­ty Elec­tions has one race that is so tight that it will head to an auto­mat­ic recount. That is the fas­ci­nat­ing con­test for Seat­tle City Coun­cil, Dis­trict #1 between Lisa Her­bold and Shan­non Brad­dock. Brad­dock led for much of the count, but she fin­ished just thir­ty-nine votes behind Her­bold.

To put that in con­text, there were a total over twen­ty-five thou­sand votes cast in the race, and yet the two can­di­dates are sep­a­rat­ed by a mere thir­ty-nine votes. That’s equiv­a­lent to a dozen or so house­holds on a sin­gle street!

One hun­dred and six­ty-four of the 25,043 votes cast were write-in votes.

“The recount process will begin on Mon­day, Novem­ber 30 and be com­plet­ed on Mon­day, Decem­ber 7th,” King Coun­ty Elec­tions says. “The first few days of the recount process will involve staff and observ­er train­ing and bal­lot sort­ing in order to obtain the votes spe­cif­ic to this Dis­trict No. 1 race. Bal­lots are not stored by dis­trict.”

“Actu­al count­ing of the bal­lots is sched­uled to begin on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 3rd and is expect­ed to con­tin­ue through Fri­day, Decem­ber 4th and pos­si­bly the morn­ing of Mon­day, Decem­ber 7th.  After the man­u­al hand count and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is com­plete the Can­vass­ing Board will meet to cer­ti­fy the recount on Mon­day, Decem­ber 7 at 3:00 PM. Final results will be announced by 4:30 PM that day.”

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