NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Will Washington State once again set a new record for low general voter turnout in 2017?

Tomor­row — Tues­day, Novem­ber 7th, 2017 — is Gen­er­al Elec­tion Day across Wash­ing­ton State. Although there are no statewide posi­tions at stake or even statewide ini­tia­tives on the bal­lot this year, five leg­isla­tive dis­tricts are hold­ing spe­cial elec­tions — the out­come of which will deter­mine who con­trols the Sen­ate in 2018.

At the same time, thou­sands of local gov­ern­ments across Wash­ing­ton State (most cities and some coun­ties, plus ports, and spe­cial dis­tricts) are hold­ing their reg­u­lar elec­tions. Most juris­dic­tions have sev­er­al leg­isla­tive posi­tions to fill, but some have exec­u­tive and/or judi­cial posi­tions as well, includ­ing the state’s largest cities (Seat­tle, Taco­ma, and Everett all have open may­oral positions).

Sad­ly, vot­er turnout remains extreme­ly low as of this morn­ing, with just thir­ty hours to go before the dead­line arrives to return bal­lots. Only 16.8% of reg­is­tered vot­ers had returned their bal­lots as of this morn­ing’s 8 AM report.

Alarm­ing­ly, Wash­ing­ton State appears to be on course to set a new low record for vot­er turnout in a gen­er­al elec­tion, eras­ing the dubi­ous dis­tinc­tion set in Novem­ber 2015 dur­ing the last local elec­tion year.

Two years ago, the morn­ing before Elec­tion Day, the Sec­re­tary of State report­ed that 17.2% of reg­is­tered vot­ers had returned bal­lots. That’s a cou­ple of ticks high­er than the turnout author­i­ties are cur­rent­ly report­ing for 2017. And that 2015 elec­tion became the record set­ter for the worst turnout in the record­ed elec­toral his­to­ry of Wash­ing­ton State, with only 38.45% of reg­is­tered vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing.

It would appear we are on pace to do even worse this year… unless we act quickly.

What can we do? Every­one read­ing this post has an oblig­a­tion to do our part to boost vot­er turnout. That means going above and beyond vot­ing our­selves. It means check­ing up on friends and fam­i­ly and ask­ing them to do their civic duty.

We are blessed to live in a demo­c­ra­t­ic repub­lic where we get to choose our lead­ers as opposed to an author­i­tar­i­an regime where we have no voice and no vote in our gov­er­nance. Vot­ing is an impor­tant oblig­a­tion of citizenship.

There are no accept­able excus­es for not vot­ing, espe­cial­ly not when three weeks are pro­vid­ed to fill out and return bal­lots, which is the case here in Washington.

So please: Talk to your col­leagues, fam­i­ly, and friends about tomor­row’s elec­tion. Ask them if they’ve vot­ed. If they have, thank them.

And if they haven’t, offer to help them make a plan for vot­ing. Research shows that peo­ple are more like­ly to vote when they make a plan to vote.

Here’s the com­plete set of fig­ures for turnout in 2015 ver­sus 2017.

2015 turnout as of 9:45 AM the Mon­day before Elec­tion Day (11/02/2015)

STATE TOTAL3,966,277  680,324 17.2%
ADAMS6,180 1,28920.9%
ASOTIN13,323 3,72327.9%
BENTON99,328 16,16416.3%
CHELAN40,567 9,26822.8%
CLALLAM47,374 9,31219.7%
CLARK251,348 48,33319.2%
COLUMBIA2,621 87233.3%
COWLITZ59,411 9,38415.8%
DOUGLAS19,595 4,00720.4%
FERRY4,567 1,16025.4%
FRANKLIN30,460 3,91512.9%
GARFIELD1,540 46530.2%
GRANT36,592 8,17322.3%
GRAYS HARBOR38,621 9,41624.4%
ISLAND50,338 12,04323.9%
JEFFERSON22,949 6,98930.5%
KING1,193,711 181,28415.2%
KITSAP153,824 29,69619.3%
KITTITAS22,192 4,40019.8%
KLICKITAT13,307 2,23316.8%
LEWIS43,703 10,89324.9%
LINCOLN6,865 2,31933.8%
MASON35,711 8,82124.7%
OKANOGAN21,434 5,21424.3%
PACIFIC13,504 4,71934.9%
PEND OREILLE8,414 2,38528.3%
PIERCE449,340 63,21014.1%
SAN JUAN12,151 3,77331.1%
SKAGIT69,069 13,11419.0%
SKAMANIA7,094 1,27217.9%
SNOHOMISH421,389 53,69812.7%
SPOKANE285,258 57,89920.3%
STEVENS29,046 2,3017.9%
THURSTON163,893 26,43016.1%
WAHKIAKUM2,964 76425.8%
WALLA WALLA32,176 7,99924.9%
WHATCOM128,345 27,82521.7%
WHITMAN20,353 4,23720.8%
YAKIMA107,720 21,32519.8%
STATE TOTAL3,966,277  680,324 17.2%

2017 turnout as of 8 AM today (11/06/2017)

Coun­ty# of VotersReturnedPer­cent­age
STATE TOTAL4,267,160717,25316.8%
GRAYS HARBOR41,1548,79121.4%
PEND OREILLE8,8282,39327.1%
SAN JUAN12,9023,49327.1%
WALLA WALLA33,5186,89720.6%
STATE TOTAL4,267,160717,25316.8%

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