Snohomish County voters rang up some interesting numbers

Voters in Snohomish County, give yourself a hand for a record-breaking performance in the 2016 election.

More of you cast a ballot than in any election in county history. In all, 360,487 people voted, smashing the previous high of 334,664 in the 2012 presidential election.

This accomplishment shouldn’t come as a total surprise. The county’s population is growing and the task of registering to vote is getting easier which produces a much larger pool of eligible voters.

Which brings us to the matter of participation. Voters in Snohomish County, you didn’t set a record. In fact this year’s turnout of 78.9 percent is the lowest in the county since 2000 when 75 percent cast a ballot in the presidential election.

Before we pack away the 2016 election, here are a few other interesting numbers the results produced.

Big Bang I: The closest contest in the county this year occurred in the city of Snohomish where a measure to change the power structure at City Hall passed by 9 votes. What’s interesting is nearly 200 more people voted on an advisory measure to ban fireworks than the proposition to have a strong-mayor form of government.

Big Bang II: Something similar happened in the piece of Bothell in the county. About 100 more voters weighed in on an advisory measure to ban fireworks in the city than on a property tax hike to pay for street and sidewalk improvements. The fireworks ban got a thumbs-down and the tax hike a thumbs up.

One-and done: The 44th Legislative District had two seats in the state House at stake but apparently voters didn’t have equal interest in them. Roughly 1,000 people made a choice between Democrat John Lovick and Republican Janice Huxford then skipped the contest between GOP state Rep. Mark Harmsworth and his Democratic opponent, Katrina Ondracek.

I’ll pass: One of the hottest political issues this year is education. Yet droves of county voters took a pass on picking the next leader of the state’s public school system. In all, 69,220 voters did not cast a ballot in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, the most no-shows of any contest for a statewide office.

That’s close: Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene easily won re-election in the 1st Congressional District. But her lead in Snohomish County kept shrinking with each day’s tally of votes. In the end, she beat Republican Robert Sutherland in the county by the margin of 51.2 percent to 48.7 percent, which is smaller than most any political pundit predicted.

Best buys: While winning elections can be expensive, Sutherland proved you can get a decent bang for your buck. He spent $17,820 and received a total of 155,726 votes districtwide. That works out to 11.5 cents a vote. DelBene, meanwhile, spent $1.43 million en route to winning with 193,537 votes. That pencils out to $7.40 a vote.

Republican Marc Hennemann can claim an even better deal. He spent no money and wound up with 117,039 votes in the 2nd Congressional District. But he lost, badly, to Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen who finished with 208,14 votes or 64 percent of the vote.

In the end, the most votes is the most important number.

(Missed the results? You can find the final tallies online for Snohomish County at www.snoco.org/elections and for the state at sos.wa.gov.)

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos.

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