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Spokane County ballot returns slacking off before hitting all-time record

November 10, 2018

Spokane County voters aren’t likely to set a record this year for the most ballots ever cast in an election, but they have far exceeded any totals for a previous midterm election.

The latest tally of ballots returned to the county elections office is 232,057, which is higher than all nonpresidential year totals and every presidential election except 2016, when 239,222 ballots were returned.

Although ballots will continue to come in for more than two weeks, and any that are postmarked on or before Tuesday will be added to vote totals for candidates, initiatives and tax measures, the flow typically drops to a trickle at this point. Spokane County estimates it has about 40,000 ballots yet to count after Friday’s tabulation, but those are already in hand, awaiting processing.

Spokane’s close races remained about the same. Republican Jenny Graham holds a lead of about 600 votes over Democrat Dave Wilson for a House seat in the 6th Legislative District. Leonard Christian leads fellow Republican Tom Konis by about 1,000 votes for county assessor.

The number of ballots returned statewide is also higher than any previous midterm.

Higher voter participation may be a result of several hotly contested congressional races, controversial statewide initiatives and intensive get-out-the-vote efforts by Republican and Democratic parties. It was also the first year the state provided postage-paid return envelopes for Washington’s all-mail election system.

Elections officials around the state will be comparing the 2018 numbers to previous years for ballots that were deposited in drop boxes and those that were returned by mail. Proposals to make postage-paid envelopes permanent for statewide elections is expected to be introduced in next year’s legislative session.

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