Nov 4, 2022 - Politics

Voter turnout lags 2018 levels so far

Gloved hand holding stacks of ballots

Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Voter turnout statewide and in King County isn't on track to smash 2018's midterm records, despite strong early turnout numbers nationwide.

Driving the news: King County Elections said, as of Thursday, about 26% of its registered voters had returned their ballots for the Nov. 8 election.

  • That's quite a bit lower than 2018, when about 35% of county voters had already submitted ballots by the same point in the election cycle, spokesperson Halei Watkins wrote in an email.

By the numbers: In 2018, King County voter turnout hit 76%, a record for a midterm election year.

  • This year, county officials have been projecting a more modest November turnout of 72% — but now it's uncertain whether the county will reach that.
  • Statewide, turnout is also trailing 2018 levels slightly, according to the Washington secretary of state's office.

Between the lines: The reason for the dip is unclear, election officials say. Voter participation is often driven by what's on the ballot; this year, there aren't big statewide ballot initiatives like in 2018, but there are other high-profile races.

  • Voter participation this year is still expected to exceed other midterm cycles, such as 2014, when turnout was about 54% statewide and 55% in King County.

Be smart: Ballots can be placed in drop boxes until 8pm on Nov. 8, or must be postmarked by that day to be counted.

Of note: It's not uncommon for half or more of ballots to come back in the last two days of the election cycle, Watkins said.

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Washington state


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