About 40% of the 4.8 million registered voters in Washington participated in the Aug. 2 midterm primary election, with the highest turnouts recorded in the eastern and far west parts of the state. 

The turnout for these primary races for state legislative and U.S. House and Senate seats was about the same as 2018, when 40.8% of voters returned their ballots.

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About half of Washington’s voters, 2.4 million people, are concentrated in the Puget Sound region, where a median 37.3% participated in the primary election, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. In the 2018 primary, the region recorded a marginally higher voter turnout of 38.6%. 

King County, which has 1.3 million registered voters, recorded a turnout of over 38% for the primary — a significant decline from 2018, when the turnout was over 50%.

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Spokane County, which has the largest number of registered voters in Eastern Washington, recorded a turnout of about 40%, witnessing a drop since 2018 (45%), when the region trailed King County.

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Regionally, counties in Central and Eastern Washington recorded the greatest dip in voter turnout this primary election compared to 2018.

Yakima County led that pack as more than two-thirds of that county’s 127,000 registered voters did not participate in the primary this year. This is a 25 percentage-point drop from 2018. 

Pend Oreille County in the east followed, with a 23 percentage-point drop in voter turnout compared to 2018.  

Nearly half the counties in the state recorded a drop in turnout this year compared to 2018, and a few saw a significant swell of voters. 

The greatest increases were recorded in Lincoln County in the east, Pacific and Jefferson in the west, and San Juan County in the north. Registered voters in these counties account for just over 1% of registered voters in the state but they accounted for nearly 2% of the ballots counted this election.

Since 2014, when the state recorded its lowest voter turnout in a midterm primary (31.2%), voter participation has consistently declined in Yakima and Franklin counties in the south-central part of the state. At the same time, turnout in southwest Wahkiakum County and central Okanogan County has grown. 

Correction: An initial version of the Puget Sound voter turnout graphic  inaccurately calculated percentages for the 2014 primary election out of total registered voters in Washington state, not voter turnout for that election.