Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting 47 percent of voters will cast ballots in this off-year election. Similar elections typically draw about 50 percent, Reed said in a statement, but this year’s election lacks the heat some might have.
I’ve got a call in with county officials. My hunch is turnout will be higher here. For one, there is a county commissioner election, not normal in an off year. In Port Orchard the mayor is up for re-election. Bainbridge Island is considering a port. In Bremerton I’m not sure what to think. Three council races are not races at all. But there is the question of council size. I’m not sure how that one will affect turnout.
UPDATE: The county is predicting 50-55 percent turnout, based only on Kitsap’s history of outvoting the state.
Reed’s press release follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 26, 2011
Reed predicts 47 percent will vote in General Election
Secretary of State Sam Reed is forecasting a 47 percent “turnout” for the General Election in Washington.
Reed, the state’s chief elections official, said that would be a little lower than the past two off-year elections, reflecting a lack of major races or hotly contested and controversial ballot measures that would spur heavy interest.
The turnout in 2009 was 50.9 percent and in 2007, it was a shade over 50 percent. This year’s August primary also was down a bit from 2009, 29.54 percent versus 30.04 percent.
The largest county, King, is forecasting a 52 percent turnout, 53 percent in Seattle and 51 percent in the rest of the county.
As of today, there are 3,658,012 voters registered in Washington. Ballots went out late last week, and “Election Day” on Tuesday, Nov. 8, is the deadline for postmarks or for ballots to be dropped off at an official dropbox or county elections department. Military and overseas ballots were mailed by Oct. 9.
For the first time, the General Election is being conducted entirely by mail. At the insistence of the Legislature, Pierce County, the last holdout for some poll sites, made the switch to mail voting this summer.
“We certainly wish that half of more of our voters were casting ballots, since so many important local government offices and local issues before the voters and we have significant statewide ballot measures to deal with,” Reed said Wednesday.
“But at the same time, we know that election turnout is largely driven by good races across the state and hot ballot propositions that really galvanize people to vote. We are not sensing that degree of voter interest, and, indeed, many people are more engaged in the 2012 presidential race, the governor’s race and other open offices, and the fight for the Legislature and congressional districts that soon will have new boundaries.”
There are no statewide elective offices on the ballot this year. There are two special legislative elections to fill unexpired terms in Spokane Valley and the Vancouver area.
Voters face three statewide citizen initiatives – I-1125, sponsored by Tim Eyman, dealing with transportation tolling and light rail; I-1183, sponsored by Costco and others, to take the state out of the liquor retail business; and I-1163, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, dealing with training and certification of homecare workers. The liquor measure has drawn record campaign contributions and a blizzard of television ads. The other two measures have been lower profile.
The Legislature also placed two non-controversial constitutional amendments on the ballot. SJR8205 deals with residency requirement for presidential voting, bringing the state constitution into compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and affirming the state’s 30-day requirement. SJR8206 would amend the “rainy day” state reserve fund to require contribution of a portion of extraordinary revenue growth in the future.
Voters may find information at www.vote.wa.gov and individualized information is available at www.MyVote.wa.gov .