RENTON, Wash. — Lokesh Nagabushan was eager as he slid his ballot into the drop box at the King County Election Offices in Renton on Tuesday.
"I was waiting for this day,” he said.
He voted for the very first time on Nov. 2 because this year he became a United States citizen.
“I missed the previous presidential election, but I don’t want to miss this election. I’m very happy and I’m very proud to be a U.S. citizen,” he said. "I'm very happy and I encourage everybody to do this. It's your vote and you should do this."
But not everyone is as enthusiastic as Nagabushan to vote in this general election.
State election officials predict only a 40% voter turnout, compared to an 84% voter turnout in 2020's general election.
"If you go back in our history, the odd year right after a presidential election is always the lowest in that four-year mark,” said Lori Augino, Washington state's director of elections.
According to data from the state, turnout for the “odd years” after presidential elections are traditionally very low.
In 2017, 37.10% of registered voters cast ballots, in 2013 it was 45.27%. In 2009 voter turnout was 50.89%, in 2005 it was 54.82%. In 2001 it was 44.51%.
Augino wants voters to understand that "odd year" elections still matter. She said they arguably have more impact on your daily life than those big presidential elections do.
"I mean, this is talking about, you know, all of those local issues and matters that city councils are grappling with today, that your school boards are grappling with today. And so, having your voice heard at the most local level is just so important,” Augino said.
Nagabushan's wife, Malabika Lokesh, walked him through the process of voting for the very first time.
“We had a little discussion and explained everything, and he was able to understand and make comfortable voting decision that was all his. And I’m actually proud of him because this is his first time voting and he did it with such grace and confidence that I’m sure that even in a bigger election he can do the decisions just fine without me,” she said.
She encourages everyone, passionate about what's on the ballot or not, to vote.
"I know that my vote counts and it's really important. I would encourage anybody who has second guesses on whether I should go and vote, you should do it,” Lokesh said.
"Go and vote, today is your day, just do it,” Nagabushan said.