The Progress of the Primaries
The internet is an amazing thing, but it still requires some digging. During the two and half weeks between ballot drop and the election deadline (July 20 to August 7 for this Primary), the Spokane County Elections office publishes the number of "Ballot Returns By Date" every weekday. It is easy to access at http://www.spokanecounty.org/178/Current-Election by clicking the link there that says "Ballot Return Statistics (PDF)."
Candidates follow these daily weekday numbers pretty closely, while most of us are only dimly aware. A lot of ballots are turned in over the two weekends and are registered as having been received only by end of day on Monday (or maybe Tuesday). You can actually follow whether your ballot was received by going to MyVote.wa.gov and clicking "Ballot Status."
As of last Friday, August 3, 80,837 ballots had been turned in. That's 25.8% of the ballots sent out (313,675). In the comparable time period in the last midterm election (2014) only 60,573 ballots had been "accepted for tabulation." That was, by my calculations (which you're free to check), 21.5% of the ballots sent out. (In 2014 282,286 ballots went out to registered voters, about 40,000 fewer than this year. Presumably that's because there are now more registered voters on record.)
In 2014 nearly 40,000 more ballots were "accepted," i.e. taken in to the Elections Office after the last weekend (i.e. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of election week) to finally amount to a 35.6% turn in rate, overall. As ever, a lot of folks wait until the last minute to do their homework...and some (656 in 2014) turn it in too late. (As an aside: the delay in sending in your ballot is a shame, because once you turn in your ballot the campaigns have access to that information and quit pestering you. If you wait until the last weekend you're susceptible the whole time.)
Conclusions? Only one: about 20,000 more voters have turned in their ballots so far in this primary than in 2014, the last midterm election, an uptick of 4.3 percentage points.
Remaining questions: Will the numbers swell M,Tu,W this week or drop off? Who did they vote for? Was there a sort of underground Facebook campaign we weren't aware of that got CMR voters to turn in their ballots in droves? What will the final numbers from the primary mean for fundraising and continued enthusiasm?
I refuse to speculate, but I am a little more hopeful than is my usual nature...
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. How many of you are familiar enough with the structure of Spokane County government to know the Elections Division is overseen by the County Auditor's office? I wasn't, such was my ignorance. Vicky Dalton has served as the Spokane County Auditor with integrity, expertise, and skill since 1999. Besides elections, Vicky's office is also responsible for a huge amount of record keeping (but not court-related record keeping, that's the Clerk's office), maps, and marriage, drivers' and vehicle licenses. (That may be why her name is familiar. It appears on motor vehicle correspondence.) So as you dig around on the Elections website, give this hardworking public servant and all those that put in time and effort to make this work well some well-deserved credit.