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The apathy capital of Washington state? A triangle of Spanaway just north of the lake

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Nov. 24, 2010 at 10:22 am |
November 24, 2010 2:44 pm

It probably isn’t something most neighborhoods covet. But there it is, a small triangle of unincorporated Pierce County that is the epicenter of voter disinterest.

Voters there are in both the 29th Legislative District and the 9th Congressional District. Both of those districts have the honor of producing the fewest numbers of the voters in the 2010 election.

When they were created following the 2000 Census, all districts contained roughly the same number of residents. That may have changed some in the decade since and new lines will be drawn next year. But it is still an interesting comparison to see how many people in each district bothered to vote.

The 9th Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, produced 225,594 votes. The next lowest voter turnout came in the 4th District of central Washington. But unlike the 9th where Smith had a contested race with Republican Dick Muri, 4th District Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings had his usual cakewalk.

The turnout champs among congressional districts are the voters of the 8th where 309,877 voters reelected U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert over Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene.

Then there’s the 29th Legislative District. In the race that drew the most votes, Democrat Steve Conway won a Senate seat over Republican Terry Harder among the 26,800 who bothered to vote. That’s the lowest among any contested legislative races.

By contrast, Republican Rep. Jay Rodne was re-elected to represent the 5th District of northeast King County, a race that saw 63,604 votes cast.

While each district started the decade with the same number of residents, they didn’t start with the same number of registered voters. The 5th has the most in the state with 94,332 while the 29th has the fewest with 49,286.

But the 29th can’t even take consolation in that. Its percentage turnout was just 54.38 while the 5th had a turnout percentage of 67.4. The state voter turnout was a near-record 71.24 percent.

The 29th is centered on South Tacoma. But there is one small section on its southern edge that is also in the 9th Congressional. It is south of 138th Street and north of Military Road on both sides of Pacific Avenue. The Sprinker rec center is right in the middle. Perhaps the state Apathy Club could hold their meetings there, if anyone would bother to show up.

Oh, there’s one more factor that makes this the heart of apathy. Pierce County was third from the bottom in voter turnout with just 66.47 percent, trailed only by Adams and Yakima County.

Here’s a fun link to our Geocommons election turnout map.

Here’s a county-by-county look at turnout:

CountyPercentage Turnout
Columbia84.79
Jefferson81.56
San Juan80.84
Lincoln79.28
Wahkiakum79.27
Garfield78.72
Ferry77.1
Pacific76.85
Pend Oreille76.78
Kittitas76.58
Island76.42
Skagit76.34
Mason76.02
Lewis74.85
Clallam74.72
Whatcom74.62
Stevens74.6
Douglas74.04
Chelan73.95
Kitsap73.54
Okanogan73.34
Grant72.84
Benton72.35
Grays Harbor72.31
Whitman72.23
Thurston72.03
Klickitat71.73
King71.65
Snohomish71.65
Walla Walla71.56
Spokane71.29
Skamania71.02
Asotin70.72
Franklin69.26
Cowlitz68.3
Clark67.87
Pierce66.47
Adams65.02
Yakima63.44

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