Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register
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New voter registrations are up by over 50 percent compared to last midterm year

There have been 252,224 new state voter IDs created in 2018 “that have not been identified as transfers or duplicates,” according to the latest data from the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

That number is up almost 54 percent compared to the number of new voter IDs that were created between January and November 2014, the last time a midterm election was held.

Data: Washington Secretary of State

This year’s number of new registrations still doesn’t quite compete with the last two presidential-election years, but is certainly much higher than a typical midterm. And data from the last two midterms doesn’t indicate that this is an ongoing upward trend of new voter registrations in midterm-election years. More new voters registered in 2010 (185,439) than in 2014 (164,175).

We reached out to Erich Ebel, Communications Director for the Office of the Secretary of State, for hypotheses about what’s behind the spike in registrations. He responded with this list of reasons that Secretary Kim Wyman has suggested may have increased interest:

  • Brett Kavanaugh hearings
  • Celebrity endorsements and calls to action
  • Increase in election advertisements
  • Election deadlines
  • Ballot/voter pamphlet arrival
  • Prepaid ballot-return envelopes
  • Our outreach efforts to make people aware of the election
  • National outreach efforts by a number of get-out-the-vote organizations
  • A natural tendency of people to wait until the last minute

Notably, there’s no mention of the current, divided political climate or President Trump. But Ebel did stress, “Secretary Wyman has always maintained that the biggest driver of turnout is candidates and issues.”