PORT ANGELES — Primary election results remained unchanged after Clallam County election officials conducted the last big count of ballots for the lowest turnout of primary election voters in more than two decades.
As of the Friday count in the all-mail Tuesday election, turnout countywide was 28.7 percent of the 48,434 eligible voters, the lowest turnout of any primary since the 27.3 percent turnout in 1995, according to election records.
“It’s hard to speculate on why voters did not vote in the primary and why the turnout was so low,” Auditor Shoona Riggs said Friday.
Clallam County’s turnout was still higher than the statewide tally of 26 percent but lower than Jefferson County’s 34.9 percent. Jefferson County’s second count was Thursday; outcomes remained the same as from the initial count on Tuesday night.
The top two finishers in Tuesday’s election for each of two Port Angeles City Council positions held onto their leads, guaranteeing them spots in the Nov. 7 general election in races in which one-quarter of eligible voters participated.
Leads also were held by election-night leaders in primary election races for Forks City Council, Clallam County Fire District 2 commissioner, Clallam-Jefferson counties’ Fire District 3 commissioner and for a .2 percent sales tax increase for street improvements that was approved by Port Angeles voters.
Auditors in both Clallam and Jefferson counties will make their final count Aug. 15, when the results will be certified.
Port Angeles City Council Position 1 candidate Jim Moran and Todd Negus will face off after Marolee Smith finished third, while Position 2 candidates Mike French and Jake Oppelt will vie for the seat. Incumbent Lee Whetham finished third.
Fire District 3 Commissioner Steve Chinn will try to keep his fire district commissioner Position 2 seat against a challenge from Sean Ryan, while Tom Martin will go against Patricia Reifenstahl for the District 2, Position 1 seat. Candidate Allen Hunt dropped out of the race after filing for the position.
Joe Soha and Mike Gilstrap also will vie for the Forks City County Position 3 seat. Candidate William Paul dropped out of the race after filing for the position.
Turnout was low, but interest among those voters who participated was still high among voters hungry for information about the candidates, elections supervisor Rick Wagner said Friday.
The next step after the primary will be creating the general election ballot, Wagner said.
“We’ll start as soon as [the primary] is certified,” he said.
General election ballots will be mailed to voters 10 weeks from Wednesday.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.