Tuesday’s (Aug. 6) primary marked the electoral debut of VoteWa and the sparkling new statewide election management system didn’t crash nor suffer a full-on high-tech belly flop as a few county auditors publicly and privately fretted it might.
No enemy, foreign or domestic, attempted to meddle in any contests.
In other words, things worked out pretty much as Secretary of State Kim Wyman hoped.
“Overall, I’m really happy with the VoteWa system and how our counties used it,” she said last week. “I think it will exponentially change the way they do business in a positive way. This system is really going to put Washington into a great position for the 2020 cycle and beyond.”
This primary also marked the premiere of a new law allowing eligible citizens to register to vote and cast a ballot on the day of an election.
Alas, it was pretty much ignored around the state. Only 257 people had used it as of 5 p.m. on Election Day, according to figures gathered through VoteWa, Wyman said.
“It was a very, very low number, kind of a dip-your-toe-in-the-water experience,” she said.
The situation should be different in November 2020 when the nation elects a president. People will likely flock to auditors’ offices to take advantage of same-day registration. These will be the ones who wake up on Election Day and think, ‘Darn, I’m not registered’ and then find out it’s not too late.
It’s not shocking unregistered voters didn’t swarm auditor’s offices. Odd-year primaries rarely incite large-scale outbreaks of civic participation — even among those already on the voter rolls.
Lawmakers, especially Democrats, have spent a great deal of energy the last few years making it impossibly easy to become a voter. Now, it seems they should direct energy to getting more of them to cast ballots.
What might help boost the turnout?
Lawmakers could tackle the problem of election fatigue. Eliminating elections in February and April — which won’t please school districts and fire districts — would get voters thinking that they will be called into action just twice a year.
Moving the primary earlier, ahead of the summer season when one’s civic resolve melts under the glare of the sun, is another idea that’s been around for awhile.
Legislators aren’t fans because it could seriously crimp their ability to raise money in years when they are on the ballot. If they truly want to boost participation in every election — which Democrats talk about a lot — it’s something to tackle.
For now, sit back and wait for the rest of the ballots in this election to be counted.
Contact The Herald (Everett) columnist Jerry Cornfield at 360-352-8623, jcornfield@herald net.com or on Twitter, @dospueblos.