Secretary of State Sam Reed is out with his prediction for how many voters will participate in this year's Aug. 17 primary, based on turnout in similar years gone by and the vagaries of this particular election.
In sum: Reed predicts relatively high turnout for an even-year, non-presidential-election primary, but thinks the percentage of eligible voters who will cast ballots is likely to stay below 40 percent. Says Reed:
We are seeing a surge of interest in politics and campaigns at both the national and state level, with people again talking about a 'change' election. We have a great U.S. Senate race, some unusually heated legislative contests all around the state, an open 3rd Congressional District, some Supreme Court races that could be [correction: will be] essentially decided in the primary, and much more.
While a minority of our voters will be deciding our November finalists—and I really secretly hope that we’ll get into the 40s—I’ll predict a reasonably strong 38 percent and just hope it’s even better.
What's that in real numbers? Washington has 3.6 million registered voters (out of a total statewide population of about 6.7 million people). If 38 percent of those registered voters return their ballots, that's 1.4 million primary votes.
UPDATE: In King County, elections officials are predicting a higher turnout than is expected statewide. Elections spokesperson Kim van Ekstrom said her office believes 45 percent of King County's registered voters will return their primary ballots.