There are a few things we can now presume from election results, both nationwide and locally.
1) There was amazing voter enthusiasm — nationwide and especially on the Twin Harbors.
2) Grays Harbor County is definitely trending toward the Republican Party.
3) Joe Biden won a relatively impressive victory over a sitting incumbent with what will likely be a margin of about 6 million in the popular vote and a 74-vote margin in the Electoral College, when all is said and done. (That’s identical to President Donald Trump’s Electoral College margin in 2016, ironically, which he declared a “landslide” on camera and Twitter numerous times.)
As for the first point, more Americans cast ballots this year than they have in a century — and all the votes aren’t even counted yet.
So far, about 67 percent of Americans eligible to vote cast a ballot in the 2020 election, the highest portion since 1908’s record 65.7 percent turnout. Turnout in all but eight states is projected to exceed 40-year records, with turnout in Minnesota and Wisconsin coming close to 80 percent, The Washington Post reports.
Overall, total 2020 turnout is projected to rise to 66.5 percent once all votes are tallied. That’ll be the highest portion since 1900’s 73.7 percent turnout among eligible voters. A much smaller voter pool was eligible to cast ballots in the 1900 and 1908 elections, as women, Asian Americans, and some Native Americans could not vote, and other non-white Americans were discouraged from voting through Jim Crow laws and intimidation.
And Twin Harbors voters blew past those lofty 2020 national numbers.
In Grays Harbor County, a whopping 38,278 ballots have been counted so far with an impressive voter turnout of 78.25% with an estimated 50 ballots left to count.
The numbers are even more impressive in more sparsely populated Pacific County, where 14,134 ballots have been counted with voter turnout at a hefty 84.7%
The next and final counts are on Tuesday, Nov. 24 — the same day as certification.
“We’re seeing 75.74 percent with a few ballots left to process. I credit the voters,” said Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe MacLean of the impressive numbers.
“I think it was general enthusiasm for the presidential race and state races, and we had a couple of contested races for commissioner and a contested PUD race,” said Joyce Kidd, the Auditor of Pacific County, where turnout precisely matched the statewide number at 84.7%. That’s more than a 5% increase statewide — so far — over 2016’s general election turnout.
As of last Friday, Pacific County officials said they had 26 votes left to count and there are “about 500” in Grays Harbor, according to MacLean.
So … how did we vote?
In the presidential race, while 51% of the nationwide popular vote went to Biden — compared to 47.3% for Trump — the trend was the opposite locally, with 45.3% (17,172 votes) going to Biden and 51.6% to Trump (19,590).
It was closer in Pacific County — 48.3% (6,776) for Biden and 49.4% (6,930) for Trump.
In key statewide races, the local counties also bucked the trends.
In the race for governor, incumbent Jay Inslee won by a relative landslide margin statewide, garnering 56.6% percent of the votes (2,277,924) to 43% for Republican challenger Loren Culp (1,729,732).
But in GOP-leaning Grays Harbor County, the script was flipped — with Inslee getting only 43.2% of the vote (16,320) to 56.5% (22,337) for Culp.
Inslee wasn’t too popular in Pacific County, either, garnering 46.5% (6,499 votes) to 53.2% (7.435) for Culp.
As for Referendum No. 90 (concerning comprehensive sex education), that did not fare well locally either, though it passed overwhelmingly statewide with 57.9% of the votes (2,265,075) to 42.1 percent against (1,648,895).
But in Grays Harbor County, it was only approved by 44.2% of the voters (16,250) to 55.8% against it (20,521).
Again it was closer in Pacific County, with 48.9% (6,651) approving the measure and 51.1% (6,945) rejecting it.
Those numbers will change a tiny bit over the coming days, but not enough to move the percentages much.
MacLean said among the few ballots left to be counted in Grays Harbor are those coming in from members of the military and local residents living abroad.
“We don’t have a ton, but we do have quite a few kids in the service registered at their home address while training or on active duty, and we have some citizens living in Canada or wherever. Those could possibly still be out there. As long as it was post marked by the day of the election, we accept it.”
And there may be a few ballots with issues that still can be “cured” by Friday — the day of certification.
Those include ballots that may have not been signed or on which signatures did not match.
”We send them a letter immediately,” MacLean said of those voters. “They have up to the 23rd to respond. If they provided a contact phone number (optional on all ballots) a call also goes out a few days” before the deadline, he added.
MacLean said the counting process has gone smoothly in the county thanks to dedicated staff, extra election workers and some new technology.
”We brought in more people than we normally would,” MacLean said. “But our new vote-processing machine really speeds up the process. It’s a lot faster and more reliable, and that helped us immensely. We counted 22,000 ballots in two hours on election night. We didn’t have to bring on as many extra workers as we might have because of that.”
MacLean, who has also worked in the elections divisions for the Secretary of State’s Office and in Okanogan County, said this election was as safe and secure as any he’s seen and has never seen any evidence of “widespread” voter fraud, as some people are claiming, during his 13 years in the field.
He offered anecdotal accounts of the only two issues he can recall in the state:
— One involved ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an organization founded in 1970 that conducted large-scale voter registration drives in 21 states.
In 2007, five people in Washington pleaded guilty to registration fraud charges related to work they did as ACORN employees and were sentenced to jail time. ACORN agreed to pay King County $25,000 for investigative costs. The group also signed an agreement to “beef up its training and procedures for detecting and reporting fraud,” according to The Seattle Times.
“But they actually got caught,” said MacLean, noting that the case had to do with registrations and not actual ballots.
— MacLean then noted that in the 2016 general election, “There were 64 cases across the state of people registered in two states and voting in those two states,” which isn’t supposed to happen.
“That was mostly cases of people mistakenly thinking they could vote in two states,” said MacLean. “They can’t.”
He said he had not heard of any of those 64 cases being prosecuted for voter fraud.
As for large-scale voter fraud?
“I’ve never seen it,” he said.
But the No. 1 take-away from this election for the local officials was voter enthusiasm, which they see as a positive trend.
”I am very happy with the turnout,” said Pacific County’s Kidd. “We had a really high amount of new registrations and things went smoothly — knock on wood — because we’re not quite done just yet.”
That happens Tuesday at 5 p.m., when it all becomes official. … for most of us.