State voter turnout hits 84.1 percent, just shy of record

By Rachel La Corte | The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — A record number of voters returned ballots in this month’s election, but the overall state turnout percentage after challenged ballots were reviewed fell just shy of the record 84.6 percent in 2008.

While 84.8 percent of the state’s nearly 4.9 million voters returned ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, the final rate Tuesday hit 84.1 percent after county canvassing boards reviewed ballots that were challenged over issues like signatures or postmarks. Tuesday was the last day for the counties to finish their work and certify the results.

Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman plans to certify the election Dec. 1, a few days before the Dec. 3 deadline.

“This election is a real testament to how engaged voters were and how well county elections officers did their jobs,” Wyman said.

Of the state’s 39 counties, 32 had turnout of more than 80 percent, and six topped 70 percent.

Jefferson County turnout was 90.06 percent, second only in the state to San Juan County, which had 90.76 percent. That represented 24,948 registered voters returning ballots in Jefferson County and 13,289 voters in San Juan County.

Clallam County topped out at 86.06 percent, with 49,647 registered voters returning ballots.

The counties with the lowest turnout were Adams and Yakima, with just over 75 percent turnout.

In the 2016 election, turnout in vote-by-mail Washington was just under 79 percent, with more than 3.3 million ballots cast.

The high interest in the general election came after the state in August saw its highest primary turnout in more than five decades, with nearly 55 percent of voters returning their ballots.

More than 4.1 million voters cast a ballot in the November general election this year, compared to the 3 million cast in 2008.

Wyman said the increase in voter numbers is due in part to the population increase in the state over the years, as well as voter access laws, including same-day registration.

She said that, coupled with a year where voters weighed in on a lengthy ballot that included races for president and governor, it showed that “people believe that their vote is going to make a difference and they care about the issue or the candidate.”

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