While Island County historically has had high voter turnout, those who voted in the county were unusually attentive and involved in the mid-term election this year. Nearly 76 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. Normally the number is around 60 percent.
That’s something to be proud of.
And the candidates, those who won and lost, should also feel good that they took part in the election process on a grassroots level, which is the foundation of democracy.
With so many people voting, it’s hard to argue that a “blue wave” of Democratic voters ruled the day in Island County, though national politics and events likely had an impact.
People are paying attention. On Whidbey Island, it was all about state and county races. People crowded into a long series of voter forums prior to the election to hear from candidates for county commissioner, sheriff and state representative.
Some of the results were surprising.
The race between Republican state Rep. Dave Hayes and Democrat Dave Paul was too close to call until late last week, when Hayes conceded when the vote count showed Paul with an insurmountable lead.
Island County voters supported Initiative 1639, a controversial gun control measure, by a yes vote of nearly 56 percent. Even a few precincts in conservative Oak Harbor went in favor of the initiative.
Contrary to some social media claims, the initiative’s passage doesn’t mean people under 21 will have to give up their deer rifles. The prohibition is only on so-called assault rifles, though defining one is a tricky question that may end up in court — along with the rest of the initiative.
In addition, 56 percent of the voters in the county were in favor of Initiative 940, which is also a controversial measure. It’s about police training and criminal liability in cases of deadly force. It changes the law that made it virtually impossible to convict a police officer of killing someone, no matter the situation.
The initiative passed in the state with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Hopefully voters will continue paying attention as the candidates become elected officials and start making decisions that affect us all.