Investing in our future education or electing the right people who control the local government does not seem to be a good enough reason for people to cast a ballot. But during Presidential election years, voters do think that their single vote will make a difference on a national scale driven by an Electoral College, as opposed to the local positions, where some elections have to be counted and re-counted to determine a winner based on a single vote.
Looking at voter turnout over the past few years, Pacific County has an overall participation of 67% for elections from 1998 - 2013. Even on a national level, during Presidential elections, Pacific County voter turnout slips into the lower 80% while the national average is 56%.
The number of registered voters in the county has increased slightly over the same number of years from 12,400 to 13,500 with voter turn out floating from as low as 53% - 85%; both a presidential and lethal prescription voting year recording the highest voter turn-out in 2008.
For boarding counties Grays Harbor and Lewis Counties, Pacific County stays right with the state average in 1998 hitting just above 60% turnout, as did Lewis and Grays Harbor. Asotin had the lowest at 45% with Wahkiakum just under 80%. King County with over 1 million registered voters could only bring 62% to the polls that year.
For Pacific County voters the roller coaster of voter turn out peaks and valleys appears to be based on topic or issue that is presented for that vote. But still the voting public of Pacific County of 13,000 is being decided by an average of 8,700 active voters.
In 2009, domestic partnership failed with a 57% turnout and Washington State became the fifth state to become part of the National Popular Vote Bill; joining Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Hawaii to ensure that the popular vote was represented with the Electoral College during Presidential elections.
Another 20% of voters turned out for the following 2010 election that had on is ballot items addressing taxes, insurance and bail denial for specific offenses. The county showed up in average numbers the following year when the question of how long a person needs to be a resident to vote in a National election was on the docket, and in 2012, a small surge, the third highest in recent voter turnout, when marijuana was addressed.
Coupled with a presidential election, 2012 brought out 80% of registered voters in Pacific County. The menu for the election was to determine if President Obama would serve another term, if union of same sex couples would be recognized, a vote on Charter schools and the legalization of marijuana for the state. For Pacific County voters it would be the third highest turnout, but even more significant was that the number of registered voters had come back above 13,000 and was growing. But that did not last.
With genetically engineered food labeling hitting the top of the charts in 2013, Pacific County voter turnout dropped back below 55% and with the growth of registered voters that equates to only 7,200 concerned citizens.
The upcoming election for 2014 should bring voter turn out back up with several items on the plate that concerns many diverse voters. Education, firearms, tribal properties and marijuana are on the agenda for voters to consider, as well as several local positions being challenged. In the following weeks we will be looking at several of the measures and ballots that will be voted on as well as head to head candidates with questions to help voters make their final decisions.