Spin Control

Today's an important day for this election

Today isn't marked in red on calendars, but it is an important day for political candidates and the people who work for them.

It's the first Tuesday after ballots were mailed out in Washington state. And it is traditionally the high-water mark for ballots coming into the county elections office until the actual election day.

Generally speaking, about a third of voters who are going to mark and cast ballots do so as soon as they get them or over that first weekend. So today is the day that ballots from people who live in the county and mailed by Monday are most likely arrive. Returns will trail off until the day before Election Day, if this year is at all typical (which, admittedly, is assuming facts not in evidence.)

Today's count: 12,104 out of Spokane County's 260,597 voters, or about 4.6% of those eligible.

In 2008, the first Tuesday ballot count for the presidential election was 18,965 ballots, or about 7.2 percent of 262,569 registered voters. The county went on to experience record-setting turnout with 222,065 ballots cast. The difference in first Tuesday ballot totals could numeric evidence that an "enthusiasm gap" does exist.

But there are two other sets of numbers to examine when looking at ballot returns and enthusiasm, the vote totals in the primaries.

In this August primary, the first Tuesday count was 11,083 out of the county's 260,160 voters, or about 4.2%. By the end of the election, 113,090 people voted. In August 2008 (which, like this year did not  have a presidential race on that ballot, 8,665 out of the county's 243,568 voters sent in their ballots, and 113,837 voted.





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