Healthy voter turnout is expected in county

Staff and Herald news services

The close race for president is unlikely to translate into higher voter turnout this year nationwide, but an official said Thursday he expects Snohomish County to buck that trend.

Nationwide, only about half of eligible voters are expected to go to the polls Tuesday, about the same as in 1996, according to projections. But Snohomish County has a reputation for doing much better than the national average.

"We’re expecting a pretty high turnout here," said Scott Konopasek, the Snohomish County elections manager. "We always historically have. We’re expecting about 80 to 85 percent turnout."

In 1996, when all the polls showed President Clinton way out front and there wasn’t much incentive to vote, 76 percent of Snohomish County voters still took the time to cast their ballots, he said.

Four years before that, when Ross Perot stirred things up, 84 percent of registered voters voted here.

"I think that there’s an ethic here and a level of interest in government that isn’t necessarily present in other states," Konopasek said.

There are nearly 340,000 registered voters in Snohomish County, out of about 600,000 residents.

Nationwide, roughly 49 percent of the electorate voted in 1996, the lowest turnout since 1924. Even with what may be the closest presidential race in 40 years, analysts don’t expect the turnout to be appreciably higher, although some competitive states may see an increase.

"The likelihood is that this election will not be like 1996, when every state had lower turnout," said Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. "Some of the battleground states, particularly those with other high-profile elections — Washington, Florida, Michigan and Missouri — may have higher turnout.

"But since about 33 states and the District of Columbia were not targeted by the campaigns, it is likely that turnout will fall in most of those states."

Gans developed the projections in his report using registration figures, poll data, TV viewership of conventions and debates, and other measures of public interest in the campaign.

The projection could vary slightly, but Gans does not expect to repeat the 55 percent turnout from 1992, one of the few presidential elections when turnout spiked upward during four decades of gradual decline.

A poll this week by the Pew Research Center also predicted turnout similar to 1996. Two-thirds of registered voters say they have given quite a lot of thought to Tuesday’s election. That is about the same as October 1996, a year when 49 percent voted, and October 1988, when 50 percent voted.

In 1992, about three-fourths said just before the election that they had given a lot of thought to the upcoming vote.

Decades ago, voter turnout was thought to be a predictor of election outcomes and Republicans did better in years of lower turnout.

But research in recent years suggests this is no longer the case. Intensity of voter sentiment, which now favors Republican George W. Bush, may be a more crucial factor.

About 63 percent of those eligible to vote cast ballots in 1960, and the rate generally has declined since then, except for 1992, when Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy and Bill Clinton’s first run at the White House sparked voter interest.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

A house fire seriously injured two people Friday evening, June 14, in Edmonds, Washington. (Courtesy of South County Fire.)
1 killed, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Edmonds house fire

South County Fire crews pulled the man and woman from the burning home around 6 p.m. Friday, near 224th Street SW and 72nd Place W.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hidden costs, delays crush hopeful food truck owners in Snohomish County

Melinda Grenier followed her dream to open Hay Girl Coffee. Thousands in fees later, it has cost her more than she bargained for.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Lynnwood
New Jersey auto group purchases Lynnwood Lexus dealership land

Holman, which owns Lexus of Seattle in Lynnwood, bought property on which the dealership resides.

Marvin Arellano (Photo provided)
Family: ‘Manic episode’ preceded trooper shooting man on I-5 near Everett

“It’s very, very unfortunate how he was portrayed in his final moments,” Gilbert Arellano said. “He was just such a good person.”

Two visitors comb the beach at Kayak Point Regional County Park on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kayak Point reopens ahead of schedule

The county’s most popular park reopened Friday.

Grauates throw their caps in the air at the end of Arlington High School graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘So worth it’: Snohomish County graduates step into their futures

Alyssa Acosta, who is Harvard-bound, was one of thousands to walk the stage at Angel of the Winds Arena this month to get high school diplomas.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.