Turnout for off-year elections is back on the rise in Kitsap

Kitsap County had the highest odd-year election turnout since 2013, according to unofficial returns from the 2019 General Election.

Kitsap election officials currently peg this November’s turnout at 43.6 percent.

The next tally of late-arriving ballots is planned for Friday, Nov. 22. The election will be certified as official on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

This year’s election turnout is on track to be higher than the turnout seen in the 2017 and 2015 elections.

That said, it’s still the third lowest in off-year, odd-year elections over the past 20 years.

Turnout in Kitsap County hit its lowest levels in 2015 (38.2 percent) and 2017 (38.5 percent).

In all other odd-year elections in Kitsap since 1999, countywide turnout has surpassed 50 percent, with the exception of 2017, 2015 and 2013 (49.5 percent).

Kitsap turnout has twice passed the 60 percent mark in odd-year elections over the past two decades; in 2005 (60.1 percent) and in 1999 (62.81).

No surprise, but the greatest turnout typically is seen during presidential elections, followed by mid-term elections.

The high-water mark for turnout in Kitsap County at 87 percent during the past 20 years came in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected to a first term.

The next highest turnout was for the 2012 General Election, when 82.1 percent of registered voters in Kitsap cast ballots.

Turnout for the 2016 General Election in Kitsap was 78.4 percent, and in 2018, a total of 72.4 percent of registered voters in the county cast ballots.

Washington state has also made it easier for residents to vote over the past 30 years.

Washington passed a “motor voter law” in 1990, which gave residents the option of registering to vote at drivers licensing offices, and approved allowing “ongoing absentee” status for voters in 1991, giving residents the chance to vote by mail for every election.

In 2005, counties across the state were given the option of conducting elections entirely by mail, and more than two-thirds of the counties in Washington changed to vote-by-mail.

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