Voter turnout hits modern low in WA

Voter turnout for this November’s election was the lowest on record for a general election in Washington state history, according to a Seattle Times analysis of election data from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Nearly two-thirds of registered voters did not turn in ballots, leaving turnout at less than 37%, the lowest recorded since reliable voter registration counts began in 1936. That continues a trend for odd-year elections observed since 2015, when voter turnout first fell below 40%. 

State law requires that city and local district elections are held in odd-numbered years. Federal and state races occur in even-numbered years. Buoyed by the lackluster turnout for this latest election, some state lawmakers are trying to revive a bill that would let cities have their elections in even years.

The absence of statewide ballot measures this year may be connected to the drop in voter turnout, said Todd Donovan, a political-science professor at Western Washington University and longtime observer of state politics.