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.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

PNWcurrents Episode III is live: This month, we discuss voter turnout and election fatigue

Decades of data demon­strate that vot­er turnout tends to be high­est in pres­i­den­tial years and low­est in odd-num­bered years.

In many juris­dic­tions, this is when local elec­tions are held.

This year showed a con­tin­u­a­tion of that trend. In this mon­th’s August Top Two elec­tion, vot­er turnout end­ed up at 29.72%. That’s not the worst it’s ever been, but it’s a far cry from the robust par­tic­i­pa­tion our democ­ra­cy needs to be healthy.

Less than a year ago, Wash­ing­ton saw some of the best turnouts it has ever seen, with a record set in the August 2020 Top Two elec­tion and a near-record set in the Novem­ber 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion. The huge falloff from pres­i­den­tial to local years is a known prob­lem that we’ve been liv­ing with for a decade.

The sim­plest per­ma­nent solu­tion to it is phas­ing out odd year elec­tions, a cause NPI has been work­ing on in the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture for sev­er­al years.

But there are oth­er mea­sures we could be pur­su­ing as well.

Boost­ing vot­er turnout and com­bat­ing elec­tion fatigue is the top­ic of this month’s episode of PNWcur­rents, NPI’s unique­ly region­al pod­cast, which I am thrilled and hon­ored to host. You can lis­ten to it on demand using the play­er below. You can also down­load it to lis­ten any­where using your favorite pod­cast­ing app or service.

Want to read the tran­script and get more details on the episode’s production?

Just launch the ded­i­cat­ed page for Episode III!

Episode III: Boost­ing Vot­er Turnout and Com­bat­ing Elec­tion Fatigue

Pre­sent­ed in a pan­el for­mat, PNWcur­rents brings togeth­er thinkers, activists, elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and top­i­cal experts to have con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions about local and region­al pol­i­tics, pol­i­cy, major issues, and ideas that impact the Pacif­ic North­west. It’s a forum for per­cep­tive dis­course like no other.

Join­ing me for Episode III are:

  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson, a mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives rep­re­sent­ing the 33rd Dis­trict. Mia is the for­mer Chair of the State Gov­ern­ment and Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, and was the prime spon­sor of House Bill 2529 in 2020, a bill that sought to phase out odd-year elec­tions. Mia is plan­ning on rein­tro­duc­ing this legislation.

  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ilana Rubel, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Minor­i­ty Leader of the Ida­ho House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where she has served for eight years. She recent­ly intro­duced H 55 to the Ida­ho leg­is­la­ture, a bill that would pro­vide for auto­mat­ic vot­er reg­is­tra­tion at driver’s licens­ing offices.

  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Ray­field, a mem­ber of the Ore­gon House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives rep­re­sent­ing House Dis­trict 16, where he has served since 2014. Dan has worked on sev­er­al suc­cess­ful pieces of vot­er-friend­ly leg­is­la­tion, includ­ing Oregon’s 2016 Motor Vot­er Act and, this year, House Bill 3291, which lets vot­ers return a bal­lot using the Postal Ser­vice through Elec­tion Day by elim­i­nat­ing the require­ment that bal­lots be in elec­tion offi­cials’ cus­tody by 8 PM on Elec­tion Night.

Because PNWcur­rents is a pod­cast avail­able on demand, you can lis­ten to episodes any­time: while gar­den­ing, while jog­ging, while run­ning errands, while work­ing on a home improve­ment project, or on your way to drop off your bal­lot in an upcom­ing local election…the choice is yours!

Pro­duc­ing PNWcur­rents requires mon­ey as well as time and energy.

We think it’s worth it, and we hope you will, too.

We invite you to sup­port the pro­duc­tion of PNWcur­rents by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute if you aren’t already!

You can donate month­ly as a Com­mon­wealth Bond­hold­er, or annually.

Thank you for lis­ten­ing, and I hope you enjoy Episode III!

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