With a final tally, county closes the book on 2020 election

In spite of the pandemic, more voters cast ballots in Snohomish County than in any prior election.


EVERETT — A memorable election season came to an uneventful conclusion in Snohomish County on Tuesday.

Auditor Garth Fell certified results of the Nov. 3 election which, in spite of the pandemic, saw a record number of voters cast ballots, resulting in one of the highest turnouts in county history.

Overall, 85.2% of the county’s 518,843 registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election. That’s the highest percentage since a cresting of 87% for the 2008 presidential election. In raw numbers, the 441,921 ballots cast this year is an all-time high for the state’s third-most-populous county.

Across the county, 58.5% of voters backed President-elect Joe Biden, with 56.1% supporting Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee for a third term. Referendum 90, the statewide measure concerning a mandate for comprehensive sexual education instruction in public schools, garnered 56.1%.

Voters chose Republican Greg Gilday of Camano Island and Democrat April Berg of Mill Creek to fill open seats in the state House following bruising electoral battles.

Four people appointed to legislative seats in the past two years — Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor; Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett; Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell; and Rep. Emily Wicks, D- Marysville — all won.

There are no recounts.

But there were close and very expensive races in the 10th Legislative District, which encompasses all of Island County and parts of north Snohomish and south Skagit counties, including the cities of Stanwood and Mount Vernon.

Voters elected two Republicans and one Democrat to represent them in the Legislature, making it one of the rare districts in the state with legislators from both major parties.

Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, won a second term, edging Republican Bill Bruch of La Conner by 738 votes, which amounted to 0.8%.

“I am humbled by the results,” said Paul, who won election in 2018 by a mere 685 votes.

Two close elections reveal the electorate is comprised of many moderates and “policies at either extreme don’t play well in this district,” Paul said.

Gilday beat Democrat Angie Homola of Oak Harbor, 50.4% to 49.4%, finishing with an 891-vote edge. Muzzall defeated Democratic challenger Helen Price Johnson by 2% — 51% to 49%. Gilday and Muzzall both trailed on Election Night but moved ahead as late vote counts trended in favor of Republicans.

“It was a little nerve-wracking. But it turned out the right way,” said Gilday, who was making his first run for elected office. “I am honored about being given this opportunity.”

All three contests in this district were battles. Collectively, roughly $5.5 million got poured into them.

Independent expenditures by political committees totaled $3.1 million, of which $1.9 million went into the Senate race alone.

Candidates themselves had a lot to spend. Muzzall and Price Johnson raised a combined $1.17 million. Paul and Bruch hauled in $809,341 between them, while Gilday and Homola collectively raised $574,369.

If Paul and Bruch each spend every dime, it will be the most spent by two candidates in a contest for a House seat, according to records kept by the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Tuesday marked the deadline for counties to certify their results. Secretary of State Kim Wyman will certify final vote totals statewide Dec. 1.

Election results for state and federal contests can be found online at www.sos.wa.gov. County results can be found online at results.wa.gov/results/20201103/Snohomish.

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

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