Voter turnout beats expectations

Snohomish County’s first all-mail election ended with a higher-than-expected turnout, election officials said.

The primary election had 38.6 percent voter turnout, with 130,171 votes counted, according to unofficial final results released Friday.

“For the primary, that’s higher than usual,” said Carolyn Diepenbrock, the county’s elections manager. “We are very pleased with the high turnout.”

Election officials said before the election that they expected 117,000 ballots to be returned. They mailed 334,000 ballots to county voters.

The state is expected to approve the primary election results no later than Oct. 10, Diepenbrock said.

Thousands of the ballots didn’t count toward the outcome of partisan races. According to the results, 22,470 voters didn’t choose a political party, either because they failed to follow the ballot instructions or they skipped the partisan section altogether.

State law requires voters to pick a party on their primary ballots in order for partisan votes to be counted. Some voters protested against making such a choice by skipping the partisan section.

Others avoided voting by mail. Sixty-one voters cast ballots on the electronic voting machines at the county auditor’s office.

Meanwhile, election officials are conducting a hand recount of ballots in a close King County District Court race. Ballots cast for the race include ones from Snohomish County.

Incumbent Mary Ann Ottinger and Frank LaSalata are within the hand recount requirements of 150 votes and 0.25 percent. Officials hope to finish the recount this week, Diepenbrock said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or

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