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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Every vote counts’: Spokane County’s primary turnout up slightly as close races show importance of turning in ballot

Voters line up to deposit their ballots into a drop box at the Spokane Library South Hill branch in October 2020.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

OLYMPIA – Spokane County’s voter turnout this year was slightly higher than previous nonmayoral municipal primaries.

As of Friday, about 24.7% of registered voters had returned their ballots for the Aug. 3 primary. According to the county, only 10 ballots remained to be counted.

Four years ago, the primary turnout for a similar election cycle was just 22%. The turnout for the 2013 primary was also around 22%.

With a few particularly interesting races in the Spokane City Council and the Spokane Public Schools, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said she was expecting slightly higher turnout this year than previous nonmayoral elections.

At the end of last week, Dalton said turnout was looking “pretty dismal,” but many voters ended up waiting until the last minute to turn in their ballots. The county’s turnout shot up Tuesday and Wednesday.

The county’s turnout stats are under the average statewide, though. As of Friday afternoon, turnout for registered voters in the state was just under 28%. The highest turnout in the state is in San Juan County, which was reporting about 49% turnout as of Friday.

In Spokane County, some close races prove why it’s important to get your ballot in, Dalton said.

Dalton said the county has had many close races and recounts in recent years. Sometimes, it’s because it’s a close race, she said, and other times, it’s because turnout is so low.

The difference between second and third in one Spokane City Council race was just two votes as of Friday. Either Luc Jasmin III, currently trailing by two votes, or Naghmana Sherazi will advance to November’s general election for the council’s district No. 1 position No. 2 seat.

In the primary, a recount happens if the second and third place candidates finish with less than 0.5% of a difference between the two.

“Every vote counts, and every vote can make the difference,” Dalton said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.