Voter turnout for the Aug. 1 Primary Election in Washington has reached 26.79% according to the Secretary of State’s Office, which is higher than the numbers set in the previous two odd-year primaries.
Turnout in 2015’s Primary was 24.37 percent while 2013’s was 25.99 percent.
A few thousand ballots have yet to be counted across the state.
“Even though this year’s turnout is the highest since 2011 for odd-year primaries, it is by no means encouraging that only just over a quarter of our state’s registered voters chose to make their voices heard,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Even though it is more convenient for citizens to register and cast their vote than ever before, it really comes down to how interested people are in a particular issue or candidate for them to exercise their civic duty.”
Secretary of State Kim Wyman says that voter turnout in a presidential election year is typically the highest, while odd-year elections historically trend lower – even though it’s the local measures and offices that will often most directly affect voters’ lives.
They say that over the last decade, Washington has undertaken numerous measures to increase the likelihood that eligible citizens will register and vote.
- Promoting voter registration through the Department of Licensing (motor voter)
- Offering voter registration at state agencies as part of every sign-up or renewal of benefits
- Pioneering voter registration by mail, and online
- Delivering a voter information pamphlet to every household in Washington state that includes information about how to register
- Providing voter registration information to college students when they register for classes
- Sending voter registration information to all young people when they turn 18 years of age
- Annually reaching out to potentially eligible but not yet registered voters with registration information
- Providing voter pamphlets in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese
- Providing voter registration information in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Khmer (Cambodian), Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Tagalog and Ukrainian – and in forms accessible to persons with disabilities.
“We continue working to remove barriers to participation in democracy,” Wyman continued. This year, the Secretary of State proposed legislation that would have shortened voter registration deadlines, allowed the pre-registering of 17-year-olds so they automatically become registered voters on their 18th birthday, and automatically registered citizens who have an enhanced driver’s license.
Local ballots are scheduled to be certified on Tuesday, August 15. As of Friday morning, 25.2% of voters have been reported locally.