The Trump Party is openly trashing mail-in voting, the system we, in the State of Washington, have run in all 39 counties for the last ten years, according to Kim Wyman, our Secretary of State (and a Republican). Trump claims rampant voter fraud with mail-in voting (at the same time as he requests an absentee ballot to vote in the State of Florida for himself). Ms. Wyman, in an NPR interview, cites a 2018 Washington State study that showed 142 people tried to vote fraudulently out of 3.2 million votes cast. So much for the endless Republican claims of fraud inherent in mail-in voting.
In the same NPR interview Ms. Wyman notes that “Washington is in the top six to 10 states every election for turnout.”
Information on election turnout following our August 4 Primary was sometimes contradictory. Perennial candidate Leonard Christian (R) ran in the Primary against Rob Chase, the Matt Shea fellow traveler. The race was for a seat in the WA state House of Representatives in Legislative District 4 (Spokane Valley north to Mt. Spokane). In a thank you email Mr. Christian explained his 27 to 33% loss by writing: “It’s simple. Low voter turn out. Only 33% of the voters turned in their ballots.” [See P.P.S. below.]
In fact (as of last Thursday’s data update) the August 4, 2020 Washington State Primary election ballot turn-in number for Spokane countywide was 50.46%. and in Mr. Christian’s LD4 it was 50.71%, not 33%. In the comparable Washington State Primary election on August 2, 2016 (before the last Presidential general election) 34.18% of the ballots sent out in Spokane County were returned (33.66% in LD4). That was a low turnout. This year’s 50% ballot return in the August 4 Primary is even 4 percent points higher than the comparable primary in 2008. In 2008 there was lot of buzz about the upcoming Presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. I’ve read that the current 50% return statistic for Spokane County is the highest recorded return in a primary election since the 1960s.
Bottom line: There is a lot of buzz this year, too–and for good reason. In the White House sits an ignorant would-be autocrat doing everything he can to delegitimize our democratic process. Primary election ballot return is way up. Typically that foretells a high ballot return in the General Election in November. In 2008, for instance, when the Primary ballot return was 47%, the ballot return in the General Election (Obama/McCain) was a record high of 86%. It is worth noting that year that in Spokane County those two were very nearly tied (Obama 48% / McCain 49%) suggesting a higher than (recent) usual turnout of Democratic voters. Anything could happen this November–even in Spokane. (Click that link to revisit the 2008 Spokane County voting. This is solid historical data available at your fingertips.)
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. “Turnout” is a odd term carried over from turning out from one’s home to go vote at the polls. In a state where all registered voters are mailed a ballot, isn’t “turn in” or “ballot turn in” the better term? Maybe “turnout” is like “dialing” a smartphone?
P.P.S. The ballot return data is available at the Spokane County Elections website (the County Auditor’s, Vicky Dalton’s, office): https://www.spokanecounty.org/4578/Elections Mr. Christian’s “33%” turnout number was likely grabbed from the first night’s “Ballot Return Statistics,” on the “Current Election” page. It is a table that is updated daily until the election results are finalized two weeks after the election. Since many ballots arrive after election day the ballot return number grows over several days. Note that ballot return statistics tend to differ from the “Voter Turnout” number presented on the “Current Election Results” page. Some small number of “returned ballots” never get “cured,” for example, a questioned signature is never verified by the voter; and the number of ballots may increase the denominator of the percent of both numbers as same day registrants’ ballots get added to the system.
P.P.P.S. Several readers wrote to say they couldn’t find the Washington Election Results App that, in the Reference box below, I’ve recommended for download for years now. I emailed the Secretary of States Office and got the following reply: “The election results app was actually removed from all app storefronts last year. Those who still have it downloaded are able to access the app, but it is no longer supported and cannot be downloaded again. If we add the app back to each app store, we will post the new links to access it. Our election results page is optimized for mobile usage, so it can be loaded correctly with various browsers on mobile devices.” (Here’s the raw link: https://results.vote.wa.gov/results/20200804/ ) That may work but I find it really inconvenient to remember how to connect to the results with a smartphone browser from one election to the next. I encourage you to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and nicely ask if, when they can find the time and resources, they would please update the app. Voting is about community engagement. This app helps the community to engage.