Voter turnout in Washington for Tuesday’s election is running behind the pace of the last midterm four years ago.

About 1.5 million ballots have been returned statewide — about 32% of registered voters, as of the last update Friday, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s down from nearly 35% at the same point in 2018.

Voters have until Tuesday to get their ballots postmarked or dropped in a drop box by 8 p.m.

Follow daily ballot statistics via the Secretary of State’s Office

It’s common for half or more of the ballots to come in during the final couple of days of the state’s all-mail election.

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs’ office is predicting turnout will reach the 72% it hit in 2018, while acknowledging the pace so far has been slower.


Like four years ago, voters in Washington are deciding key races for U.S. House and Senate, and state legislative contests. There are no statewide voter initiatives on the ballot this year; there were four in 2018, on gun restrictions, carbon and grocery taxes, and police use of deadly force.

At the city and county level, there are ballot measures to collect taxes for parks, schools, public safety and more. In Seattle, voters will decide whether to make changes to how voters select candidates in the primary for municipal offices.

Turnout in King County is projected to reach 72%, or just under 1 million ballots returned, said Halei Watkins, a spokesperson for King County Elections. That would be lower than the 2018 midterm, when the county registered 76% turnout. As of Friday, only 30% of King County ballots had been returned.

As usual, older voters are exercising their voting rights at a much higher rate than younger ones. Statewide, more than 57% of voters 65 and older have returned ballots, compared with just 11% of those age 18 to 24.

Elections officials here said they so far have not received reports of problematic ballot box surveillance or intimidation.

“We haven’t heard of any incidents of alleged voter harassment,” said Derrick Nunnally, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office.


“I personally haven’t heard of any … nobody has reached out to me,” said Darla McKay, president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.

McKay, who is the Asotin County auditor, said the Secretary of State’s Office has been holding daily video calls with auditors to monitor for problems.

It is legal to watch ballot boxes, which are placed in public spaces, and the political parties often send volunteer observers who are trained to behave appropriately. But this year some far-right groups, motivated by false conspiracy theories about widespread ballot fraud by paid “mules,” have launched surveillance efforts that have at times veered toward potential illegal voter intimidation.

In King County, during the voting window for the August primary, some conservative activists coordinated ballot box watching efforts that included placement of signs near ballot boxes warning they were “under surveillance” and implying voters could be committing crimes by dropping off multiple ballots. The effort was quickly condemned by elections officials, citing laws against voter intimidation.

In some states, including Texas, North Carolina and Arizona, officials have reported threats and possible voter intimidation efforts, according to news accounts. A federal judge in Arizona last week issued a temporary restraining order against the conservative group Clean Elections USA, barring members from coming within 75 feet of ballot drop boxes, Reuters reported.

“We expect drop boxes to be busy on Election Day, we expect there to be lots of observer interest, and we expect everything to go smoothly. If our voters have concerns while out at the drop boxes, we want them to give us a call at 206-296-8683,” Watkins said in an email.

“If there is somebody doing something that is actively intimidating or threatening by a drop box, law enforcement should be their first call,” Watkins added.

For more information about voting, ballot drop boxes, accessible voting and online ballots, contact your county elections office. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8, or put in a drop box or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 p.m. that day. Be sure to sign the ballot envelope.

For more information on your ballot, in any county, go to:

How will your ballot be counted?