More King County voters cast a ballot than ever before in the 2016 General Election: 1,054,564. This is the first time in history that King County Elections received and processed more than 1 million ballots. In 2012, 993,908 ballots were returned and 978,377 processed.
So what caused the increase in ballots cast? Was it more voter turnout? Not exactly. We add about 100,000 new registered voters each year. And over the last year, we canceled the registration of about 58,000 voters, mostly people who have moved away from the county.
The boost in new registered voters is largely due to the county’s steady population growth. King County’s population grew from about 1.5 million residents in 1990 to over 2 million in 2015, an increase of 36%. The county’s growth rate is faster than the overall U.S. population growth of 29% from 1990 to 2015. King County’s population growth over the years reflects a national trend of people moving to cities. Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Renton saw their populations increase over the last decade.
We did not, however, set a record for voter turnout. Of the county’s estimated 1.28 million registered voters, about 82% cast a ballot. Voter turnout was 85% in 2012.