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Eye On Olympia

Primary voter turnout lower than expected, varied dramatically from one county to the next…

Although Secretary of State Sam Reed predicted 34 percent voter turnout in Washington’s new August primary, it now looks like the actual number was about 28 percent. (Some counties still have a small number of ballots left to count.)

In a press release summarizing the numbers, state Elections Director Nick Handy called it “a very typical odd-year primary where turnout is driven by the races on the ballot.”

Hot mayoral races in Odessa and Elmira, for example, drove Lincoln County turnout to a statewide high of 70 percent this election.

Franklin County’s sparse ballot, on the other hand, led to an unusually low 22 percent turnout there.

In Chelan County, with a high-profile school levy, turnout’s projected to be 50 percent. In neighboring Douglas County, turnout was half that.

Locally, here’s the projected turnout:
-Spokane County: 33 percent
-Pend Oreille County: 39 percent
-Stevens County: 31 percent
-Whitman County: 43 percent
-Adams County: 41 percent
(Ferry County was one of five counties that didn’t hold a primary election.)

Also, the numbers suggest that people are far more likely to vote by mail than go to the polls: Average turnout by polling-place voters in King and Pierce County will probably end up at 8 percent, which 33 percent of mail voters in those same two counties cast a ballot.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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