Chelan Co. Canvassing Board Concerned About Low Voter Turnout
There's concern among members of the Chelan County Canvassing Board about low voter participation in this month's primary election.
Roughly 29.5 percent of registered voters took part in the primary cycle which typically draws a 40 percent or higher turnout.
Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore says people could be looking at the odd number year ballot and believe the election is not very consequential.
"There was only races that had three or more people filing on the primary," said Moore. "So, people look at that and I think a lot of people may view it as, 'I'll just wait until November when we get the final two and I'll make the final decision.'"
Moore also thinks the low voter turnout could be a result of people not being engaged early on in the election process.
Even numbered years feature elections for high profile offices such as U.S. Senate and House members and state senators and representatives, and can also feature races for Governor and U.S. President.
Turnout for the 2022 primary in Chelan County was 46 percent, according to Moore.
Moore says voters who bypass the August primary in any year are limiting their own decision making part of the election.
“I think a certain level of the voting public would rather just wait until November to make the final decision,” Moore said. “Yet, a lot of their decisions have been predetermined by those who participated in the August primary.”
The low voter participation in Chelan County was similar to turnout in most other counties across the state. It was actually slightly higher than the state average of 28.98 percent.
Douglas County turnout for the August primary was even lower at 28 percent. Participation in Grant County was notably light at just 20.6 percent. It was 36.64 percent in Okanogan County and 34.36 in Kittitas County. In the state most populous county, King County, voter participation in the primary was 30.24 percent.
The Chelan County Canvassing Board consists of three members – County Auditor Moore, Chelan County Boar of Commissioners Chair Tiffany Gering and county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office designee Susan Hinkle.
Gering mentioned the board’s concern about low voter turnout in a public discussion with her fellow commissioners Monday, and asked her two fellow commissioners to stress the need for residents to vote when interacting with members of the news media.
Moore said the canvassing board has not taken any formal steps to address the issue, but didn’t rule out the possibility in the future.
Participation in the odd numbered year elections have been steadily declining in Chelan County. Turnout in 2021 was 34 percent, while it was 38 percent in 2019.