WA vote tops 1958 mark

News Release
Issued: November 23, 2010

WA vote tops 1958 mark -- 71.18% as tally winds down  

FYI: Today is the deadline for Washington’s 39 counties to certify their election returns.  

At this hour, with the final count close to complete in most counties, we are at 2.56 million ballots counted, out of 3.6 million registered voters, or 71.18 percent. That is the best showing in decades for a midterm election, and eclipses the 71.15 percent in 1958.  It does not appear we will surpass the 71.85 percent mark of 1970.  Turnout was 64.55 in the last midterm election, four years ago, and 56.35 percent in 2002. 

  Secretary of State Sam Reed, who issued a pre-election prediction of a 66 percent turnout, said he was delighted that voters took his challenge to prove him wrong.  Even 66 percent would have been the best turnout in 40 years.

  "Our voters were clearly enthused and engaged by this midterm election, and that makes election officials very, very happy," he said. "This turned out to be a 'wave' election nationally and both parties really contested Washington, both for the Senate and House seats and for legislative races.  We saw some huge budgets for advertising and many outside independent groups played in Washington, further raising the profile and visibility of our election. We also saw some of the best vigorous use of the initiative process in our state’s history, and record spending, and that engaged a lot of people, pro and con."  

The election participation also reflects the state’s embrace of vote-by-mail, including populous King County, which switched last year, State Elections Director Nick Handy said. He also noted that with the advent of a statewide voter registration database and regular scrubbing of the voter rolls, the updated registry is more accurate and the turnout naturally should reflect that.     

A handful of counties will schedule recounts, including three close legislative races where Republicans have a narrow lead.   A very close Supreme Court race, in which Justice Richard Sanders lost his re-election bid by 0.68 percent, was not close enough to trigger an automatic recount.  

County turnout numbers are here: http://bit.ly/bPMqs9. Our website also has county-by-county numbers for the statewide ballot measures, the Murray-Rossi Senate race, U.S. House races, legislative contests and multicounty judicial races. 

  Secretary Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire will certify the state returns on Dec. 2 at the Capitol.