Tomorrow is the day. While it’s not quite the Super Bowl for democracy fans, or even really the playoffs, the midterm primary elections present a major opportunity for voters to make some change in state and federal politics.
Though Washington makes it very easy to participate in elections, traditionally the midterm primaries draw out base voters on both sides and wealthy homeowners who cry over shuttered Starbucks stores downtown. Right now it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who’s voting, but, as usual, the youths are running late to the party.
The good news: It’s not too late! You still have time to vote! Plenty of it, actually! Here’s how to vote (even if you haven’t registered yet), who to vote for, and who’s voting.
According to King County Elections (KCE), the County boasts nearly 1.4 million registered voters, but only a little more than 270,000 voters have returned a ballot so far. That puts the current turnout at about 19%. In the last midterm election primary, about 43% of the county’s registered voters cast a ballot, but a spokesperson for KCE said the county is on track to meet the department projection of a 45% turnout. The Secretary of State’s office didn’t offer a statewide projection.
Looking at the precinct map, Seattle precincts with more homeowners have out-voted denser precincts with more renters. Also, the older voters have blown younger voters out of the water. About 43% of the ballots King County has collected came from voters over the age of 65. By comparison, only a little more than 13% of ballots came from people under 35.
Statewide, voters look equally unenthused at the moment. Only 17% of Washington state voters have cast a ballot. East vs West, turnout looks relatively equal, but of course blue counties in the west have larger populations. Lincoln County in eastern Washington boasts the highest turnout in the state at 31%, but, keep in mind, they’ve only cast one hundredth of the number of ballots cast in King County. So, don’t get too concerned for Senator Patty Murray just yet.
Looking at those low numbers, The Stranger wants you to vote. If you’re just now figuring all of this out between jobs, then let's sprint through the basics.
How to Register to Vote
Are you registered to vote? If you don’t know, then check here.
If you’re not registered, then it’s too late to register for a mail-in ballot, but you can still register at a voting center, and then you can vote there. Be sure to have your Washington State driver's license, a state ID, or the last four digits of your social security number handy when you go.
There are six voting centers in the county, and they are all open today until 6 pm, and then from 8:30 am to 8 pm on election day.
Who to Vote For
Over the last couple months, The Stranger Election Control Board researched the serious candidates running for each race, asked them tough questions, and picked the ones who would be best for the job (or the least bad for the job–looking at you, Larry Springer). So, if you’re strugglin’ with the bubblin’, here’s our endorsements.
If you’re in a rush, then just jump straight to the Cheat Sheet.
Where and When to Vote
You should vote now! But if you haven’t yet, then that’s okay. I haven’t voted either. I probably won’t until tomorrow night, if I’m being honest.
Anyhow, if you’re registered to vote, then your ballot should be in your mailbox or somewhere on your coffee table. Fill it out the way The Stranger told you to, sign it, and then drop it off at a nearby drop box before 8 pm on Tuesday. You can also mail your ballot, but this late in the game, you should just physically go into the post office to make sure it’s postmarked before 8 pm on Tuesday.
Can’t find your ballot? No worries! If you’re registered to vote, you can just print out a new one, or go vote in person at a voting center in King County.
Of course, voting won’t solve all our problems. In the near-term, people will still fry on the pavement in the heat regardless of who wins a State House seat in Northeast Seattle, and the ghouls on the Supreme Court will still try and make everyone’s lives worse even if Murray defends her seat for the billionth time. But taking 30 minutes out of your day to vote for someone who wants to end single-family zoning, or someone who hates highways, or someone who thinks the do-nothing Democrats need to step aside might be worth your while.