As election season simmers down, data rolls in. This year, nearly half of eligible U.S. voters cast ballots. That may not sound like much, but it is the highest voter turnout for a midterm election since the 1960s.

In Washington, most counties saw higher than average voter turnout this year. Except two.

Yakima County had the lowest voter turnout in the state at 37 percent. Skagit County had the second lowest.

Meanwhile, counties like Jefferson and Garfield had the highest at 82 percent. On average, 66 percent of Washington voters came out this year.

Travis Ridout.
Travis Ridout

Washington State University political science professor Travis Ridout thinks demographics has something to do with voting patterns.

“I suspect we see lower turnout in Yakima County, and there’s a large Hispanic population,” Ridout said. “Hispanics just don’t vote at the rate of other people. Not just in Washington state, that’s true nationally as well.”

He thinks how politicians reach out to Hispanic/Latino constituents also has something to do with it. Ridout calls it a “chicken and egg” problem. Hispanic voters don’t show up at the polls, so politicians don’t reach out to them. And because Hispanic voters don’t feel like most candidates appeal to them, they don’t vote.

There’s also potential language barriers that keep some voters from participating, the lack of  civic engagement historically, and even voter suppression.

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Northwest Public Radio