Off-year elections such as this one are when voters decide who will govern city councils, serve as elected mayor, make decisions as Hospital Board, School Board, Fire District, Water District, Cemetary District members. These elections have the most immediate impact on our day-to-day lives as they involve city amenities and services, hospital services & fees, water fees, first responder services, fire suppression, and more. So kudos to all those who voted in the 2021 election!
The 2021 General Election is not yet certified (that will be on November 23rd) but an early review of ballot returns as of 11/15/21 shows interesting data.
First off, two thirds of Kittitas County residents prefer ballot boxes over US mail.
Younger voters are not as engaged in local elections as older voters. This is disappointing, since local elections have an immediate and serious impact on our lives.
Statewide, the ballot challenge rate is 1.33%. Kittitas County has a current challenge rate of 1.65%. Ballots are commonly challenged when a voter’s ballot envelope signature doesn’t match their signature on file, or when a ballot envelope is unsigned, or ballot arrives after voting deadline and is not postmarked by 8pm on election day. County election officials try to resolve challenged ballots before certification so voters have the opportunity to ensure their votes will be counted. You can always check your ballot status after voting by going to VoteWA.org and clicking on Ballot Status from the menu.
While most voters wait until the last couple of days to turn in their ballots, comparing 2021 to previous off-year election in 2017 shows some encouraging trends.
- There are 5,570 more registered voters in 2021 than in 2017.
- Voter turnout improved by 5.3% over turnout in 2017 (increasing from 36% to 41.3%)
Despite some close races in Roslyn, Thorp, and Ellensburg, none currently fall within automatic recount range, according to the auditor’s office. This does not preclude any candidate for asking for a recount.
four out of ten registered voters are making decisions for us all
Increases in voter turnout aside, assuming the data does not change significantly between now and election certification on November 23rd and generalizing the data across Kittitas County, currently four out of ten registered voters are making decisions for us all in terms of who will serve on our city councils, hospital & school boards, fire districts, water districts, and more.
We can do better.