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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County primary election turnout was better than expected

Dave Sullivan places his ballot in a ballot box outside of the downtown Spokane Library on Nov. 7, 2016. Turnout in the Aug. 2 primary election is expected to top 40%, far higher than initial estimates.   (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)

The numbers weren’t looking good on the Friday before the primary election.

Based on how many ballots had arrived at her office, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton didn’t expect turnout to top 30%.

It was a gloomy estimate – less than a third of registered voters choosing to participate in democracy.

But Dalton underestimated Spokane County voters’ love of procrastination.

Large numbers of voters waited until the last minute to put their ballots in drop boxes or get them in the mail. Now, Dalton estimates more than 40% of the county’s 358,000 registered voters decided to cast ballots.

“The drop boxes just got hammered,” she said. “I’m ecstatic.”

As of Friday afternoon, the elections office has received 143,000 ballots and counted 116,000. Roughly 26,500 ballots remain to be counted.

Turnout around 40% would fall in line with recent midterm primary elections.

During the 2018 midterm primary, 46% of Spokane County’s 311,000 registered voters cast ballots.

In 2014, just 35% of the county’s 281,000 registered voters turned out. That was a big drop from August 2010, when 43% of Spokane County’s 260,000 registered voters cast ballots in the mid-term primary.

The solid turnout for the Tuesday election is a good sign, Dalton said.

“What it shows is people really are concerned about making sure they get their ballots in and that they get their voices heard,” she said. “I’m going to expect a very great turnout actually in the general election.”