County’s voter turnout for primary election hit 50-year high

Election officials certified results Tuesday. A late surge pushed turnout to the best showing since 1964.

County’s voter turnout for primary election hit 50-year high

EVERETT — Snohomish County on Tuesday certified results of the Aug. 4 primary, which drew the highest turnout of voters for a primary in half a century.

With the final tally, 53.8% of the county’s registered voters wound up participating, smashing pre-election expectations and attaining the best mark since a 56.4% turnout in 1964.

“It bodes well for turnout in the general election,” said Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell, who had predicted a 40% participation rate.

A number of voters, many aged 25 to 45, returned their ballots in the election’s last hours.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the late surge,” Fell said.

Turnout could have been a point or two higher had election officials not had to discard 5,285 ballots. Of those, 2,746 arrived with a late postmark and 1,935 had a voter’s signature that did not match the one on file with the county, according to the final canvass report issued Tuesday.

The high voter participation did not boost a trio of school finance measures.

A $317.4 million bond measure for the Everett Public Schools failed. It wound up with 58.8% support, but state law requires that bonds receive at least 60% for passage.

In Lakewood and Darrington, voters rejected levies which would have provided money to cover programs and services not funded by the state. A technology levy did pass in the Lakewood School District.

County voters helped set the match-ups in the Nov. 3 general election for three congressional seats, nine statewide executive offices and 18 local state legislative positions.

One closely watched race was in the 44th Legislative District, where Rep. Jared Mead, D-Mill Creek, is stepping aside because he’s now serving on the Snohomish County Council.

Democrat April Berg bested fellow Democrat Anne Anderson and will meet Republican Mark James in the general election in November. James won with 47.4%, followed by Berg with 32.5% and Anderson with 20%.

Meanwhile, an open House seat in the 10th Legislative District — vacated by Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, who chose not to seek re-election — had five candidates vying to replace the 13-year lawmaker.

Republican Greg Gilday won the primary with 46.2% and will face Angie Homola, a Democrat who topped four party foes with 26.1% to earn a spot in the general election.

For the district’s other House seat, incumbent Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, earned 47% and finished second behind Republican Bill Bruch, who garnered 48.7%. They will face off again in November. The race’s third candidate, Progressive Taylor Zimmerman, earned 4.2%.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking a third term, won 48.1% of the vote in Snohomish County against three dozen opponents.

He’ll be facing Loren Culp, police chief for the town of Republic in Eastern Washington, who garnered 16.9%. Republicans Joshua Freed, a former Bothell mayor, received 12.3% and Tim Eyman, initiative promoter and former Mukilteo resident, got 6.9%.

One contest does require a recount. Republicans Ed Osgood and Debra Idso are tied with 32 votes apiece in their duel for Sunnyside Precinct Committee Officer.

Fell said the ballots will be tallied Friday, and if there is still a tie he will flip a coin to determine the winner.

Results for local and state elections can be found online at

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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