Voter turnout for state’s August primary lags ahead of deadline for ballots

Aug 2, 2021, 7:33 AM | Updated: 10:54 am
Turnout primary...

Voter turnout for the 2021 August primary is not expected to hit the nearly 55% we saw statewide in 2020 – the highest turnout for a primary here in decades. But with high-profile races in the city of Seattle, and in King and Snohomish counties, that number could at least edge to higher-than-normal levels.

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As of Saturday at 5 p.m., the Washington Secretary of State’s Office is reporting that just under 620,000 ballots have been returned statewide – or 14.23% of the 4,355,770 total ballots. With less than 48 hours to go before ballots must be postmarked, that makes higher turnout numbers seem less likely.

In King County, where about 40% turnout was expected, the numbers mirror the state data, with just over 13% of the nearly 1.5 million ballots returned.

“King County Elections says we’re going to get turnout around the county at 40% — I don’t see it,” said Andrew Villenueve with the Northwest Progressive Institute.

“I think this year we’re going to go back to some of the lousy turnouts we’ve seen in the past where turnout has been in the mid-20s,” he added.

That’s roughly on track with what Snohomish County Elections officials tell the Everett Herald, where they are expecting a turnout around 28%, despite several high-profile contests.

Among the races to watch in the North Sound are the two Democrats challenging incumbent Republican County Councilmember Nate Nehring, the race for the open Lynnwood mayoral seat, Everett’s own mayoral race, several school board seats, and Snohomish Prop 1, which asks voters to approve a 0.2% sales tax for roads. It also will be the first time ever that Everett voters will elect city councilmembers by geographic districts.

In King County, several county council candidates are in competitive races, including longtime incumbent Kathy Lambert, who is facing two challengers that could put her District 3 seat at risk.

The same is true for Seattle City Attorney, where incumbent Pete Holmes seeks a fourth term, but who Villenueve says could get squeezed out at the primary with two challengers polling neck-and-neck with him.

Seattle City Attorney faces uncertain path to reelection

The race for Seattle mayor appears to be a three-way race between Bruce Harrell, Lorena Gonzalez, and Colleen Echohawk if recent polling is any indication, although Jessyn Farrell could surprise in the primary.

The City Council Position 9 seat is also one to watch, with recent polling putting Nikkita Oliver as a lock for coming out on top in the primary. Still, there’s also uncertainty around who might take the second spot in a race that will send the top two candidates to the November General Election.

Teresa Mosqueda is positioned well for re-election to her Position 8 seat, while King County Executive Dow Constantine is facing his first significant challenger in 12 years.

King County voters also will decide on a proposed increase to the Best Starts For Kids levy.

So, check that kitchen table for your ballot if you want a chance to weigh on these issues, or narrow the candidate field in some of these races.

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Aug. 3, or deposited in an official drop box by 8 p.m. Aug. 3. Paid postage is not required.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

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Voter turnout for state’s August primary lags ahead of deadline for ballots