NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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.

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Washington’s general election voter turnout is low so far, but not as bad as 2015 or 2017

Few­er than one in five Wash­ing­to­ni­ans have cast a bal­lot so far in this year’s Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion, but vot­er turnout is at least on track to sur­pass the low marks set dur­ing the last two local elec­tion cycles, when Wash­ing­ton repeat­ed­ly set new records for the worst gen­er­al elec­tion vot­er turnout in state his­to­ry.

At around this junc­ture two years ago, statewide turnout was just 16.8%. And on the day before Elec­tion Day four years ago, turnout was 17.4%.

This year, it’s 19.4%, with about a day and a half left to vote.

Small coun­ties are once again the turnout lead­ers. Tiny Colum­bia Coun­ty leads with 35.9% turnout, fol­lowed by Fer­ry, Lin­coln, and Pend Oreille Coun­ties. West of the Cas­cades, Jef­fer­son is the turnout leader, with 28.5% of bal­lots returned.

Of the larg­er coun­ties, Spokane and What­com are both clos­ing in on 25%, while Pierce and Sno­homish are lag­ging behind. Sno­homish has the sec­ond worst turnout in the state (at 15.9%) and Pierce has the fourth worst turnout (16.2%).

King Coun­ty is doing mod­est­ly bet­ter, with 18.9% of bal­lots returned.

Here are the num­bers for every sin­gle coun­ty:

Coun­tyVot­ersReturnedPer­cent­age
State4,501,807872,89519.4%
Adams7,0171,39119.8%
Asotin15,1174,29028.4%
Ben­ton114,75820,06117.5%
Chelan46,03211,45124.9%
Clal­lam53,87113,21024.5%
Clark293,34251,95817.7%
Colum­bia2,68896535.9%
Cowlitz66,40311,10316.7%
Dou­glas22,7035,50524.2%
Fer­ry4,8381,54031.8%
Franklin37,0835,48314.8%
Garfield1,68843225.6%
Grant42,3429,56322.6%
Grays Har­bor44,95811,04024.6%
Island58,57214,19324.2%
Jef­fer­son25,8517,36328.5%
King1,329,331251,04318.9%
Kit­sap174,73934,34419.7%
Kit­ti­tas26,6865,86922.0%
Klick­i­tat14,5883,06121.0%
Lewis49,52411,19122.6%
Lin­coln7,4352,34531.5%
Mason40,52810,70026.4%
Okanogan23,8335,18021.7%
Pacif­ic15,5073,66223.6%
Pend Oreille9,3422,76929.6%
Pierce519,23284,22016.2%
San Juan13,7113,70127.0%
Skag­it78,21414,34618.3%
Ska­ma­nia8,0871,30316.1%
Sno­homish475,75075,82315.9%
Spokane330,41182,36224.9%
Stevens31,9467,91424.8%
Thurston186,40935,76319.2%
Wahki­akum3,22865920.4%
Wal­la Wal­la35,3036,15917.4%
What­com146,59435,80824.4%
Whit­man24,9894,35117.4%
Yaki­ma119,15720,77417.4%
State4,501,807872,89519.4%

Last year, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans turned out in force in the 2018 midterms, arrest­ing and revers­ing a near­ly decade old decline in vot­er turnout in every type of elec­tion.

But this year, we’re back to strug­gling to sur­pass fifty per­cent turnout.

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.

There are no “off” years… every elec­tion year is an “on” year… so ban­ish that term from your vocab­u­lary and make sure peo­ple you know have vot­ed.

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.

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