Voter turnout in today’s primary election seemed to start slow, elections officials said Tuesday, but several counties reported being slammed with more ballots than expected Monday and today.
With four of eight statewide offices and three congressional seats up for grabs, elections experts initially expected voter enthusiasm to be slightly higher than average for the primary season. They were expecting to see ballots from 46 percent of registered voters statewide and from about 52 percent in King County.
But county election officials around the state initially reported that ballots had been coming in at a trickle, leaving some to wonder if they would come anywhere near early projections.
“It’s all anecdotal of course, but return rates have been slower across the board,” said Dave Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.
Ammons said he’d noticed the same trend around the country, with one early season election in North Carolina registering only single-digit voter participation.
Still, much of that appeared to be changing in Washington in recent days.
“We’ve heard from a couple of counties that while it’s been lower than expected for the past 2 weeks, that they saw quite an uptick in the last two days,” said Katie Blinn, co-director of elections for the Secretary of State’s office. She said it appeared many voters just started turning to their ballots Sunday, Monday and today.
“I visited Pierce and King and it was good to see a steady stream of cars going through drive-up dropboxes,” Blinn said.
Others echoed her assessment.
“We’ve had a huge return today,” said Dave Cunningham, director of elections for Whatcom County.
Garth Fell, elections supervisor in Skagit County, said his office had been busier than expected, too.
“It’s not been to the point where we’re pushing our resources,” Fell said. But “you can tell more people are out dropping off ballots.”
King County elections spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom said only about 25 percent of the county’s 1.1 million ballots had been returned as of today — less than half of what is expected for the primary. But the county received more than 60,000 ballots in Tuesday’s mail and expects an even greater dump tomorrow.