2016 Election: Record 3.36m ballots counted

2016 Election: Record 3.36m ballots counted


Washington counties have certified the returns in the hotly contested 2016 elections that attracted record voter registrations of nearly 4.3 million and the most ballots ever counted in the state, over 3.36 million.  The turnout was nearly 79 percent, a strong showing nationally.

The spike in voter engagement reflects the four-year cycle of elections, with the presidential-gubernatorial always generating the most interest and turnout. Voters’ plates were full this year. Besides the heavily publicized race for president, voters were choosing their congressional delegation, most of the Legislature, the governor and all nine statewide executives, a third of the Supreme Court, nine ballot measures, and a number of local races and propositions, including the $54 billion Sound Transit vote in central Puget Sound.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer and a 24-year veteran of county and state election administration, said election officials were gratified at the strong voter interest and the cybersecurity of the election systems.

“This was probably the most scrutinized election since the ultra-close race for governor in 2004, with news reports of potential interference by Russian hackers and potential intrusions on election systems, as well as candidates talking about ‘rigged’ elections. Thus it was gratifying to see that our systems in Washington remained safe and secure and that voters can be confident in the outcomes.”

Like the other West Coast states, Washington went into the Democratic column for president even while Republican Donald Trump was picking up an Electoral College victory elsewhere. Hillary Clinton took 54 percent in Washington, to Trump’s 38 percent, a margin of about 500,000 votes. The state hasn’t voted GOP for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

One interesting footnote: more than 150,000 voters skipped the presidential race or picked a write-in who was not on the ballot. Four years ago, the dropoff was much lower, about 47,000.

Democrats also prevailed in most of the statewide races. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray won another six-year term, 59-41 over Republican Chris Vance. Jay Inslee was re-elected 54-46 over Republican challenger Bill Bryant. State Sen. Cyrus Habib defeated Republican Marty McClendon 54-46 in the  open lieutenant governor’s race. Attorney General Bob Ferguson easily rebuffed Libertarian Joshua Trumbull 67-33. Mike Kreidler won another term as state insurance commissioner, defeating Republican Richard Schrock 58-42. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy won an open race for state auditor, 52-48 over Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia. Newcomer Hilary Franz defeated Republican Steve McLaughlin for the open lands commissioner race, 53-47.

Republicans ended up with two of the eight partisan statewide races. Wyman defeated Democrat Tina Podlodowski 55-45 and Duane Davidson defeated fellow Republican Michael Waite 58-42 for the open spot as state treasurer. It was the first time that two statewide candidates from the same party faced off in the General Election after emerging from the Top 2 Primary.

The open nonpartisan contest for state schools superintendent was by far the closest statewide race and was not declared for several weeks. State Rep. Chris Reykdal edged Erin Jones 50.5-49.5.

Three incumbent Supreme Court justices, Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins, were all handily re-elected.

All 98 House seats and 26 Senate races were on the ballot. Despite millions being spent on key races, the bottom line was almost unchanged. Democrats will continue to hold a 50-48 majority in the House and Republicans will have a 25-24 edge in the Senate, following defeat of Republican Steve Litzow, with Democrat Tim Sheldon continuing to caucus with the GOP majority coalition.

Statewide voters approved Initiative 1433, minimum wage and family leave, 57-43; I-1491, firearms restrictions, 69-31;  I-1501, records exemptions for care workers, 71-29; I-735, urging a U.S. constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision; 63-37; and SJR 8210, requiring earlier passage of redistricting plans, 77-23.

Voters rejected I-1464, campaign finance reform, 54-46; and I-732, carbon tax, 59-41.

Comments are closed.