The ballots are in, and Yakima County finished last.
Last, that is, in the percentage of registered voters who turned in ballots.
Yakima County finished 39th out of 39 counties in terms of voter turnout in the Nov. 6 general election.
Turnout was measured with 73.7 percent of registered voters, according to the county Auditor’s Office and the Secretary of State’s Office.
Statewide turnout overall was just more than 81 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, with 3,169,435 ballots turned in.
Counties surrounding Yakima all showed higher turnout. Kittitas saw 83.7 percent; Klickitat had 80.2 percent; and Benton registered 82.7 percent.
Finishing just ahead of Yakima in 38th place was Asotin County, which forms the southeast corner of the state, with 73.9 percent turnout.
San Juan County had the largest turnout with 89.4 percent. Turnout in Yakima County had been projected at 80 percent, although turnout in elections in even-numbered years over the last decade has averaged just more than 69 percent, according to the county Auditor’s Office.
But turnout was 6 percent more in 2008, Yakima County Auditor Corky Mattingly said, and there were more than a thousand new registered voters in this election than in 2008. Still, of the county’s 106,452 registered voters, only 78,420 chose to vote in the general election.
“I don’t know the answer,” Mattingly said. “It’s not very encouraging for us when our numbers aren’t as high as we’d like them to be.”
Mattingly said a prevalent feeling of disenfranchisement among voters east of the Cascades may have had a role in the low turnout. Mattingly, a Democrat, said she knows voters in this more rural, conservative part of the state who assume their ballots don’t have as much influence as more populous, left-leaning areas such as King County.
“Part of it is just taking it for granted, as well as not think you have an impact,” she said.
Latino voter turnout in Yakima County was 57 percent this year, which is also down from when it was 63 percent in 2008, Mattingly said. There are more than 20,000 registered voters in Yakima County with Spanish surnames.
Mattingly said her office will continue its voter outreach efforts in hopes turnout improves in future elections, working community events and visiting local schools.