1998 Election Results Certfied

News Release
Issued: December 03, 1998

Olympia -- Spurred by high-profile ballot contests and the growing popularity of absentee ballots, voter turnout in last month's election edged up to its highest level in years, Secretary of State Ralph Munro said today.

Results of the Nov. 3 general election were certified today by Munro, the state's chief elections officer. The final tally shows more than 62 percent of the state's 3.1 million registered voters participated - the highest turnout in a mid-term election since 1982.

A total of 1,939,421 ballots were cast in the general election. Compared to the state's estimated voting-age population, the turnout equals 45.5 percent - the highest since 1970. Nationwide, the turnout compared to the voting-age population has been estimated at 36 percent.

"Washington voters are bucking the national trend of declining participation in elections," said Munro. "It is encouraging to see these numbers go up, especially when we hear so much about how voters are turned off and disinterested."

Washington state's election featured several hotly-contested ballot measures, including proposals dealing with affirmative action, abortion, and medical use of marijuana. The state also had a U.S. Senate race, nine Congressional elections, and numerous contests for state Legislature.

Munro also credited the boost in turnout to the increasing use of absentee ballots. One-third of the state's registered voters are now signed up as permanent absentee voters, which means they automatically receive a mail ballot before each election. In the November election, 47.5 percent of the votes cast were by absentee ballot - a record high for any general election. In the September primary, 60 percent of the vote was by absentee.

Voter registrations reached an all-time high of 3,119, 562 in the November election. Currently, more than 73 percent of the state's voting age population is registered, the highest level since 1978.

"Our voter registration programs, especially Motor Voter, are working to keep registrations on pace with population growth," said Munro. "The continuing challenge is to provide comprehensive voter education programs, and to encourage citizens to participate in all elections."