RENTON, WA — The Metropolitan King County Council on Tuesday approved a charter amendment proposal, which would move elections for a dozen county-level offices to even-numbered years.
The measure, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Claudia Balducci, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Girmay Zahilay, is designed to improve voter participation across demographics, but particularly among underrepresented groups. Earlier this month, the council examined two decades of voter turnout percentages and found a vast chasm between participation in even and odd years.
Elections held on even years, when residents are also voting for President or weighing in on the mid-terms, saw turnout at 77 percent on average, while odd-numbered years averaged just 47 percent. Looking at last year, Balducci noted countywide ballot measures and races drew between 40 and 41 percent of voters, while 2020 participation was roughly double.
“The data is clear that voter turnout during odd-year elections is dramatically lower than even-year elections, meaning many voters have no voice in who represents them in key offices,” Balducci said after Wednesday’s vote. “Moving county races to even years means we’re welcoming participation by currently underrepresented voters, including younger people, people of color & renters.”
Here are the offices that would move to even-year elections:
- King County Executive
- King County Assessor
- King County Elections Director
- Metropolitan King County Council (9 positions)
The ordinance passed the full council Tuesday in a 7-2 vote, with only councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer voting no. Voters will have the final word in the November general election. If approved, the county assessor would be up for election in 2023, followed by the county executive in 2025, then even-numbered elections would begin for the assessor’s office in 2026, followed by the county executive in 2028. The director of King County Elections would be up for election in 2023, then again in 2026, and every four years after.
Source: Bellevue Patch