A King County Charter amendment intended to increase voter turnout by moving many county elections from odd-numbered to even-numbered years was leading in Tuesday’s general election, with 69% of ballots in favor to 31% opposed.

The idea behind Charter Amendment No. 1 was to have all county races moved to the ballot during the same years as congressional and presidential elections, as well as gubernatorial and state legislative contests. Proponents of the measure say it would be more convenient to voters and combat “ballot fatigue” caused by holding elections every year.

The changes would impact the races for county executive, assessor, elections director and nine county council seats. Elections for King County Prosecuting Attorney and Superior Court judges are already held on even years.


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The amendment does not affect municipal elections, which are held in odd-numbered years in Seattle and many other cities.

Proponents point to the county’s election turnout numbers to justify the change. During presidential election years, the county sees turnout of nearly 80% of registered voters. During midterm elections, that number falls to about 70%.

However, voter turnout drops to below 50% in odd-numbered year elections.

“Studies have repeatedly shown that aligning the timing of local elections with state and federal elections does more for raising and diversifying turnout than any other electoral reform we can adopt,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve, co-chair of the Yes on King County Charter Amendment 1 committee.


“With the success of King County Charter Amendment 1, we’ll soon be joining 36 other counties in electing our county’s executive and legislative positions at times when most voters consistently turn out, which will raise the visibility of county government and ensure far more voters are participating in the selection of their elected representatives,” he said.

Proponents, including the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County and the Urban League, say the change would increase public awareness and participation in the process. It could also broaden diversity of the county electorate by bringing county issues to the polls during years when the public is paying attention to state and national topics, they argue.

No opposition statement was submitted to the King County Voters’ pamphlet. Council members Pete von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn were the only dissenting votes in June when the council sent the proposed amendment to the ballot.