For civic enthusiasts, the most recent returns for the upcoming November 3rd election may only reinforce pessimism about public participation in holy democracy. As of Sunday night, only 27,440 of Seattle’s 419,231 registered voters — that’s the total number of registered voters as of October 20th — have returned their ballots. That’s a little more than 6.5%. But there’s still [a little] time till election day. And congratulations District 3 voters! You’re winning once again when it comes to a comparison of district-by-district returns.
Out of District 3’s 63,760 registered voters, 4,813 good samaritans have already returned their ballots (that’s 7.5%). District seven (Queen Anne, Downtown) comes in second with 4,407 of its 62,555 registered voters, or 7%. Next up is the largest voting district, District 6 (Fremont, Ballard, Phinney Ridge) with 68,280 voters, 4,407 (or 6.4%) of whom are on their A-game and have returned their ballots. District 4 (Wallingford, University District) comes in 4th—hah—with 6.2% of 55,296 ballots returned, then District 5 at 6.2% of 58,377 voters, followed by District 1 (West Seattle) at 6.3% of 60,977. District 2 (Southeast Seattle) trails the whole pack with 6% of 49,986 ballots returned.
UPDATE: Our new “Twitter UPDATE” correspondent weighs in!
@jseattle You're a day late. D3 is up to 9.54%. City as whole at 8.4% (city outside D3 8.2%).
— Goldy (@GoldyHA) October 27, 2015
Those may seem like dismal numbers with the general election a little over a week away. But when you compare them to the final returns during the primary in August, we’re not hopelessly far out, given routinely low overall turnout rates in non-governor, mayoral, or presidential election years. Two months ago, District 3 brought in 37.1% of its total 62,790 voters, the highest of any other district (the rest varied between 32 and 27%). As we’ve noted in the past, the engaging District 3 race is likely influencing Central Seattle’s turnout rate, with Seattle’s socialist incumbent Kshama Sawant duking it out with Urban League CEO Pamela Banks in a widely observed bid for a local council seat.
According to Kim van Ekstrom with King County Elections, 50% of ballots for any given election come in the day before and the day of the election. The county is projecting a 49% voter turnout rate for the city of Seattle, with 48% for the suburban parts of the county. There are no projections for Seattle’s districts.
Some people may have already dropped their ballots in one of several official King County Elections cardboard ballot boxes featured at last week’s voting party hosted by The Stranger at the Comet Tavern on Capitol Hill. Apparently the boxes weren’t handled or returned by county officials, which The Secretary of State’s Office apparently feels uneasy about.
“We always encourage voters to return ballots by mail or to official drop boxes,” van Ekstrom with county elections told CHS. “But voters are responsible for the choices they make with their ballots … if they feel comfortable giving their ballots to others to submit, that’s their choice.”
King County Elections officials have said they will consider other ballot drop opportunities like the Stranger’s.
You can mail in your ballot or deposit it at a designated dropbox downtown through 8:00 PM on Tuesday, November 3rd.
— King Co Elections (@kcelections) October 23, 2015