Washington elections officials might be duly proud that the 2018 midterm had near-record voter turnout and more ballots cast than any other elections save the last two presidential contests.
Behind the positive news that nearly 72 percent of the voters cast some 3.1 million ballots, however, there’s a negative: Almost 30 percent didn’t vote, and more than 1 million ballots that were mailed out didn’t come back.
This in a state that for years has worked to make it easier to register, by mail, online and in person. Washington arguably makes it easier to vote than any other state.
Democrats may be courting the types of voters who are least likely to cast ballots, said Cornell Clayton, who teaches government and politics at Washington State University, where he serves as director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service.
“It’s typical that Democratic voters don’t turn out at the same level as Republicans, especially in midterms,” Clayton said.
Democrats tend to make their appeals to younger voters and lower-income voters, both of whom may be more mobile than average, he said. While the turnout for younger voters might have been up this election, it was probably well below that of older voters, who tend to back Republicans in recent years.