Grays Harbor posts 10th lowest voter turnout in state

Approximately 40.43 percent of the more than 4.8 million registered voters in Washington participated in the Aug. 2 midterm primary election, with the highest turnouts recorded in rural counties of Eastern Washington, as well as far west parts of the state, election data showed.

Voter turnout for the 2022 primary was just shy of 2018, when 40.79 percent of voters returned their ballots.

For Grays Harbor County, 41.14 percent of registered voters participated in the 2022 primary, a nearly 13 percent decline from the 53.95 percent that voted in the 2020 presidential primary. Of the 39 counties in Washington, Grays Harbor County had the 10th lowest voter turnout across the state and the lowest in the Olympic Peninsula.

Joe MacLean, who serves as Grays Harbor County Auditor, said when looking at the big picture it’s obvious why voter turnout was down.

“The 2020 primary was a different beast and really shouldn’t be used to compare to 2022. Besides it being a year where COVID-19 was the big talking point in conducting elections safely, the trend tends to be that big-name races will generate more voters to come out. We had a governor’s race, a presidential race, and other high-up state officials on the ballot,” MacLean said.

MacLean also noted while a drop-off in participation was expected, his office believed voter turnout would come in somewhere in the low- to mid-30 percent range.

While voter turnout was down, the number of registered voters was up in 2022. That figure rose by more than 2,000 to 48,495 from 46,003 in 2020.

“The automatic voter registration that occurs throughout the state when people renew their licenses has a lot to do with those number increases,” MacLean explained. “However, just because more people get registered doesn’t mean they even intend to vote, which in return drops the voter turnout. So, in a way, it’s a Catch-22.”

Primary election results are set to be certified by the Washington Secretary of State on Aug. 19.