Bill to push for even-year elections across Washington state clears House

A bill to have Washington cities move their elections to even-numbered years passed in the state House on Thursday.

If it’s passed in the Senate and then signed into law, the bill would force any city or town with under 40% voter turnout in four straight odd-year elections to move to even-numbered years.

The goal of the bill is to boost voter turnout in major local elections that currently take place in lower turnout odd years. Currently, Washington cities elect their mayor, city attorney, and councilmembers among other positions in so-called “off years” in between more high-profile midterm and presidential election cycles.

According to the bill, turnout in odd years averages just over 40%, compared to 80% in even years. Washington’s last odd-year election in 2023 saw just 36% of voters send in ballots.

Opponents have argued that moving to even years could create additional burdens for local election offices as they grapple with the added workload of more races stacked in even-number years.

The proposal was approved by a 52-45 margin on Thursday and now goes to the state Senate.