Cantwell, Jayapal, Macri on the ballot in August primary

August is coming, and amid the mad summer dash to enjoy every rooftop deck and patio in town, we also get to vote in the primary. This year is considered an off-year election, since there’s no presidential race, but there are still a number of elections at various levels of government. Washington has a top-two primary system, meaning that the top two candidates, regardless of party, will face off in November. Locally, that can mean a left-leaning candidate will run against a lefter-leaning candidate, though there are races where Capitol Hillers might see an actual (R) on the ballot in the fall.

To register to vote online, you need a valid Washington Driver’s License or ID card. The deadline for that is July 9. If you miss that deadline, or don’t have either of those ID’s, you can register in person at the county’s election annex. The Deadline for that is July 30.

King County Elections expects to mail out voter pamphlets July 17 and ballots July 18. Returned ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7, or placed in a ballot drop box by that date. There is a box on Broadway in front of Seattle Central Community College, another by the Garfield Community Center, and more scattered across the county.

U.S. Senator: The highest profile race on the ballot is for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), who is seeking a third term. Continue reading

King County moves ahead with plan to pay for your ballot stamps

(Image: King County)

In an effort to buttress sagging turnout — especially among populations most likely to be disenfranchised by voting barriers — the King County Council voted Monday to move forward with prepaid postage for 2018 elections in the county:

King County Elections Director Julie Wise cites two successful pilots conducted last year, the unwavering support of councilmembers and the overall community need for the approval of this request as proof that prepaid postage works and is supported by all as a means towards stronger voter participation.

“I am grateful to the Council for their unwavering support in giving me the tools I need to continue removing barriers for our voters,” said Director Wise. “Prepaid postage along with our ballot drop boxes makes it easy for everyone to exercise their civic right to vote.”

The postage decision joins the county’s ballot drop boxes added in 2016 to locations including Broadway in front of Seattle Central across from E Howell as part of a King County-wide effort to increase turnout. In 2011, Washington shifted to all-mail elections but the percentage of eligible voters participating in midterm elections fell below 40%.

The decision would make $381,000 available to fund the free postage for King County voters. Gov. Jay Inslee is considering an emergency request by Secretary of State Kim Wyman for $2 million to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots statewide this year.

Four ways Washington is making it easier to vote: automatic registration, Election Day registration, pre-registration for 16 & 17-year-olds, and a state Voting Rights Act

In the last days of the 2018 Washington legislative session, four bills aimed at reforming Washington’s voting policies and practices were delivered to Governor Jay Inslee, expected to be signed into law this week. In these days when it can feel like democracy is under full attack, the new laws should help the state put its ballot decisions in front of more voters.

“I think it’s fundamental to democracy that we have broad participation in elections,” said 43rd District Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

Pedersen co-sponsored the Voting Rights Act Senate Bill 6002, a state-level version of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which details the government’s responsibilities to voter equality, and Senate Bill 6021 for increased voter registration periods.

Two more House Bills: 2595 for Automatic Voter Registration by state-run agencies and 1513 for pre-registering students to vote are co-sponsored by 43rd District Rep. Nicole Macri and expected to be enacted into law.

The bills were drafted by lawmakers to remove barriers to voter participation and increase registration for communities that experience limits to accessing their voting rights. Continue reading

Final election data maps: Capitol Hill leaned ‘anti-establishment,’ but rallied for Mosqueda

More blue = More Mosqueda

It’s no surprise that Capitol Hill leans hard to left in local elections. In 2015, socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant decisively won reelection against Urban League CEO Pamela Banks with roughly a ten point margin, and lefty Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had a solid base of support on Capitol Hill during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The November 2017 general election results complicate this picture — but only slightly. Thanks to Phil Gardner, regional Democratic strategist, CHS has access to detailed visualizations of the final precinct-level voting data from the 2017 local general election. (November’s final election results were finalized on November 28th, according to King County Elections.) Gardner looked at voting data from the citywide Position 8 city council, mayoral, and King County Sheriff’s races. Continue reading

Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers: They worked

One of Seattle’s many progressive experiments, the Democracy Voucher program proved effective for balancing the scales between everyday people with limited money for campaign donations and large companies with more than enough to support their candidate of choice.

Around 25,000 Seattleites made campaign contributions. Driving the big tally, 18,000 Seattle residents gave nearly 70,000 Democracy Vouchers to 2017 candidates. For comparison, roughly 8,200 donated in 2013.

“Seattle voters put in place the Democracy Voucher Program to make local government more accountable to the people of Seattle, and so far, it’s working,” said Tam Doan, research and policy director at Every Voice Center. “As billionaire donors play an increasingly larger role in national politics, Seattle’s Democracy Voucher Program is a promising example and a reminder for the rest of the nation that if we choose to use them, we have the tools necessary to reduce the power of big money and give everyday people a bigger voice in our political system.” Continue reading

Durkan sworn in as Seattle’s 54th 55th 56th mayor

Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s first woman to serve as mayor since 1926 — and the Pacific Northwest metropolis’s first out lesbian mayor, ever — was sworn in at the start of a five-stop tour from the south of the city to its north Tuesday afternoon. Fittingly, the whole thing was planned to come to end Tuesday night with a beer — Lake City Way’s Elliott Bay Public House marked the final stop.

Any Seattle voter who chose Durkan because she seemed like she might be a tough ally in the seeming culture war underway in the country probably liked what they heard Tuesday.

“We will not be bullied and will not be told what to do,” Durkan said. “We’re not spoiling for a fight but we will not back down from what we know is right.” Continue reading

Voters overwhelmingly approve $350M King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy

Voters this week approved Prop. 1, the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. It gives funding to services providing assistance to veterans, military service members, their families, seniors and their caregivers, and vulnerable King County populations. At last tally, more than 67% of King County voters said “yes” to the boost.

Capital facilities, regional health, and human services for housing, financial stability, healthy living and social engagement. It requires a six-year property tax less than 11 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation on all taxable property. The tax increases will reach no more than 3.5% in the other five years. It will raise more than $350 million over six years.

It largely helps domestic violence survivors and veterans. Locally, there are groups like King County Veterans’ Consortium, The Seattle Stand Down.

The levy has existed since 2005 when it was created to alleviate deep cuts in human services and was seeking its third renewal. This time it adopts the outcomes-based framework and gives more support to affordable housing.

Previously, each section of the program typically screened around 2,700 veterans with around a 76% success rate in diversion and housing. You can read more about its performance here.

Election 2017 | Optimism party watches Durkan take expected big lead

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin and photography by Alex Garland

With the combatants in the central battle in Seattle politics gathering their supporters off Capitol Hill, CHS spent Election Night at Broadway and Union’s Optimism Brewing where City Council candidates Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda and Capitol Hill-based School Board candidate Zachary DeWolf watched the night’s first ballot counts come in and show the expected early big count for mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan.

Full King County results are available at results.vote.wa.gov.

Durkan’s Election Night party was held at the strong>Westin while Cary Moon supporters rallied at 1st Ave’s Old Stone Brewing Co.

Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, would be the first woman elected mayor in Seattle since 1926. The Victory Fund, dedicated to boosting LGBTQ candidates, celebrated her likely victory as the first “out lesbian” mayor in the city’s history. Most viewed her as the establishment candidate due to her legal background and her championship of the justice system for solutions. CHS talked with Durkan about her plans for the mayor’s office in the weeks leading up to Election Night. “For three years I sat in on every police shooting case there was,” Durkan told us at the time. “I have spent decades working for social justice in this city.”

Remembering the last woman elected mayor of Seattle, Durkan joked about her legacy Tuesday night:

She also told a story about meeting a Seattle woman who was alive during the Bertha Knight Landes administration. “Last week, I was in South Seattle at the senior center and I met a woman named Jewell who is 94,” Durkan said. “She was alive when Bertha was Mayor. She has lived in this city for decades. She has lived almost two lives. But today Jewell can barely get by. I sat and talked to her. And she pays her rent and expenses – she has only a few hundred dollars left. And she talked to me about how hard it was and how much she really had faith in Seattle. So wanna tell you Jewell if you’re watching this: Help is On the Way.”

While Durkan stopped short of declaring victory, she did acknowledge from the stage that the Seattle Times had called the race in her favor with only the first round of votes counted. Durkan said the campaign was tough but gave her new love for Seattle. “It has really renewed my optimism for this city,” she said.

Back at Optimism, Mosqueda found herself with a Durkan-like lead over challenger Jon Grant. She also found the appropriate adjective given the brewery setting when we asked her how she felt on Election Night. “Full of optimism,” she said before the first tally showed her with more than 60% of the vote. “I feel like this entire year, the campaign has been about how we pull together the community. People are coming out and showing they want somebody who will work for others… believe in women, believe in me.”

Continue reading

Election Day on Capitol Hill and the Broadway ballot drop box is busy

It is Election Day in Seattle. Or, really, Election Night — the first drop of early voting counts will hit sometime after 8 PM. Don’t worry. You still have time to vote. And you don’t need a stamp — just a pen.

CHS stopped by the friendly neighborhood King County Elections ballot drop box Monday. The blue and white, tough as nails security box was already doing brisk business with Capitol Hill and Seattle Central voters. Continue reading

Plymouth on First Hill, one point of progress in Seattle’s homelessness emergency

Plymouth Housing Group built the Cal Anderson House — supportive housing for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance — 17 years ago. Now, they’re opening a new building on First Hill, moving in mostly homeless people with disabilities. Because of the mountains of paperwork, moving people in is a slow and rough process that will be finished by the end of December.

Walking up to the building on Cherry Street, the familiar landscape-painted poles under I-5 accompany people sitting out in the cold on mattresses, in boxes and in tents. Plymouth’s own building attempts to bring a piece of that familiarity inside with its own landscape-painted pole in its lobby.

The security-enforced front desk, operated 24/7, lies adjacent. Largely because of its hours, the building has 10 people on staff. Those working the front desk try to keep tabs on their residents so they know everything is alright while not being too intrusive. It’s a tough balance. UPDATE: CHS reported on the staff total for the project. There are 170 total employees across all Plymouth properties. Sorry for the error.

“A lot of the people who moved in to Plymouth Housing units have not been treated well in the system and bureaucracy,” said chief program officer Kelli Larsen. Continue reading