The votes from statewide and local elections November 7th have now been counted, and the results are officially certified. The Washington Secretary of State’s website shows our voting turn-out statewide at approximately 37%. This means that elected officials at the city and county levels, as well as fire district levies and other ballot measures, were decided by roughly one out of every three Washingtonians.
In August of 2016, the Pew Research Center ranked the U.S. 31st out of 35 countries for voter turnout based on the voting age populace, among the mostly democratic nations. In a separate study, the Pew Research Center showed how voter turn-out varies significantly amongst different ethnic and rational groups in the U.S. There is still work to do to address barriers that may make it more difficult for some groups of people to vote.
Despite systemic barriers, suffrage cannot not be taken for granted. We fought hard for the right of women to vote. A right Washington women didn’t gain until 1910 (after having it briefly and seeing it taken away again in the 1880s)..
Men and women can have their voices heard by turning out to vote. Only through exercising our right to vote can we select leaders and make decisions for our communities that represent our collective consensus.
Being able to vote is a precious and basic democratic right. We must strive to boost turn-out in all elections, including local ones. Because, as the saying goes, “decisions are made by those who show up.”