(The Center Square) – Charlie Boisner, director of external affairs for the Office of Secretary of State, made something of a de facto prediction earlier this month about voter turnout in Washington state’s primary election.
“The best way to assess current voter turnout is to reference our Ballot Return Statistics webpage,” Boisner advised The Center Square on Aug. 2 – primary election day – in response to a query about how many people might cast ballots. “There you will be able to find current return stats, as well as an option to view a comparison between the 2018 mid-term Primary, which showed approximately 41 percent participation.”
The 2018 contest was the last even-numbered, non-presidential primary election year before this year.
That same webpage shows that, as of Tuesday, out of 4,803,741 registered voters in this year’s primary, 1,969,259 ballots, or 40.99%, had been returned.
Washington is a vote-by-mail state.
Wahkiakum County in southwest Washington posted the highest voter turnout percentage at 57.49%, while Yakima County in the south-central portion of the state had the lowest voter turnout at 31.34%.
Boisner cautioned against reading too much into that in response to a question about county differences in voter turnout.
“We wouldn’t be able to draw a correlation between voter turnout rates in counties,” he said in an email to The Center Square. “In the examples you provided, Wahkiakum and Yakima counties had different races to vote on, and therefore motivations would be unique to voters within the county.”
Other factors come into play as well, Boisner pointed out.
“You also have to look at the size of the county,” he said. “From a population standpoint, Wahkiakum is one of the smallest counties in the State, compared to Yakima. If you were to look at percentages alone, the highest statewide turnout would have come from Wahkiakum, Garfield, Lincoln, Columbia, and Skamania counties (in no particular order).”
Not surprisingly, senior citizens were the top age demographic in terms of casting a ballot, with 68.1% of those 65 and over voting, according to Ballot Return Statistics.
Other age groups voting percentages are as follows: 55-64 (50.5%), 45-54 (36.7%), 35-44 (28.5%), 25-34 (20.8%), 18-24 (19%), and 17-POV (24.1%).
The Center Square inquired about the 17-POV age range.
“In regard to your question about the 17-POV age group, in 2022 a new law came into effect that allowed 17-year-olds to register and vote in primaries, as long as they turned 18 by the general election,” Boisner explained. “This age group of eligible voters is known as ‘Primary-Only voters,’ hence the acronym. You can find out more about Primary-only voters in RCW 29A.08.170 and on our Future Voter Program webpage.”
County canvassing boards certified Washington’s primary election results on Tuesday.
The last day for the Office of the Secretary of State to certify primary election results is Friday.