February 2018 Special Election: Turnout insights

February 2018 Special Election: Turnout insights

All but two of Washington’s 39 counties held special elections earlier this month, and the results have now been certified.

As of Friday, Feb. 23, the counts became official: 896,507 of the state’s 2,761,020 eligible registered voters had weighed in on hundreds of local issues, largely related to government structure and tax propositions.

Those figures provide a few insights:

  • The 32.5 percent voter turnout rate is the lowest for a February special election in the last decade, which is as far back as our current elections database goes.
  • Because the voter pool was so large as to involve nearly every county in Washington, the total of 896,507 ballots received is the largest number of votes cast in a February special election since February 2008. (In that politically-charged year, 1,386,701 voters — 41.88 percent of the eligible pool — voted in the February special election.)
  • Despite the historically low statewide turnout rate, 14 counties received ballots from more than 40 percent of their voters. Jefferson County was the only one to top the 50 percent turnout threshold, with 571 of the 1,118 registered voters in a pair of school districts casting ballots in their respective tax elections.
  • Garfield County, the least populous in the state, had just 30 voters eligible to vote in February, in a proposition about a school district largely situated in Asotin County (which handled the election). The 12 voters who returned ballots gave the county a 40 percent turnout rate exactly.
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