Turnout around 30 percent in Walla Walla County

The Walla Walla County auditor says the number is an improvement over typical 'odd-year' primaries.

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WALLA WALLA -- A higher-than-typical number of contested races on the primary ballot didn't necessarily bring out more voters than usual.

Walla Walla County Auditor Karen Martin said 30.09 percent of registered voters cast their ballots in Tuesday's election.

She said the number is an improvement for an "odd-year primary" over the last few years.

"There's been a lot of times we haven't even had a primary during the odd year because not enough people filed" to run for office, she said.

County elections officials counted 4,917 ballots Tuesday night. Another 53 had been submitted but have not yet been counted because of signatures that need checking or other markings that require further study.

Another 588 ballots came in this morning. Of those, 290 were from area drop boxes, and 298 came via mail. Martin said the majority of those should be counted Friday. She did not yet know if any might have had signature or other issues.

Martin acknowledged the timing of the election may make pose difficulties for voter turnout. With the primary in August, many people are occupied with vacations and other obligations.

That's even the case with three major races for public office on the ballot. Two Walla Walla City Council seats and one Port of Walla Walla Commission position were up for election. Ballots for many voters may not have reflected all of the races because the Council positions are determined just by residents of the city, and the Port seat is determined in the primary just by residents of the district being represented.

Martin said the county typically receives its first crush of returned ballots right after they've been mailed out to voters. From there the ballots trickle in slowly until the cutoff, she said. The day after the election often includes a crush of ballots. By then, the direction of the votes is usually already established.

The direction of tight races can be changed by the votes that come in the last-minute ballots, Martin said. But that's only the case of close races, she said.

"Generally, once the trend is set it doesn't change too much," she said.

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