Voter turnout on the North Olympic Peninsula was quite a bit higher than the turnout statewide.
In Jefferson County, 62.31 percent of registered voters returned ballots in the Nov. 7 general election, the results of which were certified last week.
That was the second-largest voter turnout in the state; only Garfield County was higher, with a 75.81 percent turnout.
Clallam County came in 10th in the state with 43.33 percent of registered voters returning ballots.
Statewide, the turnout was just 37.1 percent of the 4.3 million registered voters, according to Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office.
That means that nearly two-thirds of Washington voters sat out the Nov. 7 election, setting a new low mark for turnout.
The previous record general-election low was set in 2015, when turnout reached about 38.5 percent.
Washington state has tried to make voting easy, mailing ballots to every registered voter and giving them weeks to send them in. Many counties have expanded the use of ballot drop boxes.
Nevertheless, about 2.6 million voters dumped their ballots in the trash or recycling bins instead of taking part in this year’s elections to pick mayors, city councils and school boards across the state.
“I think it continues to be disappointing, and I think it should be a concern for our democracy,” said state Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, who chairs the House Committee on State Government, Elections and Information Technology.
“I think we get better government when we get more participation.”
This fall was the first year since 1985 that Washington had no initiatives or referendums on the ballot, Ebel noted.
Voter interest typically shoots up in presidential-election years and dips in midterms and even further in odd-year elections. In 2008, the state set a record with 84.6 percent turnout when Barack Obama was elected to a first term as president.
Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, said Washington should take steps to further lower barriers to voting — such as providing prepaid postage on ballot envelopes and allowing same-day registration.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.