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Amid *huge* early turnout and hope of leaving 2016 behind, Capitol Hill faces Election Night 2020 — UPDATE

2016 was a long time ago

Four years ago on Election Night, CHS readers went to bed with excitement about the strong showings for Pramila Jayapal, Nicole Macri, and Sound Transit 3 — and worries from the just before midnight concession of Hillary Clinton in her defeat by Donald Trump. An overnight protest gathered groups at 10th and Pike and small fires were reported set across the Hill and in Cal Anderson Park. There were no reported arrests and Seattle Police mostly stood by to monitor the small crowds but it was a sign of the years to come.

In 2020 as we prepare again for Election Night in Seattle, there are reasons for optimism even as already boarded business districts add new corners of plywood to join the blocks that have stayed boarded up throughout the pandemic and ongoing protests. Polling has improved thanks to increased effort at the state level. And turnout is surging across much of the country boosted by gains and improvements in by-mail and absentee voting in many states.

In King County, turnout has already reached 72% with 1,014,557 ballots returned as of Sunday night’s update.

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That’s only 40,000 shy of the voter total here in 2016 when the county reached 82%. Our own 43rd State Legislative District is doing even better with a 76.5% turnout already recorded. And there is still time. Stop by the ballot drop box in front of the Seattle Central campus on Broadway just north of Pine before Tuesday at 8 PM — the sooner the better. Need help? We’ve rounded-up 2020 endorsements from area publications and organizations here. There some important decisions to be made beyond Trump vs. Biden.

King County turnout as of Sunday night

The weightiest decisions on the night, of course, won’t come down to King County. Instead, we’ll be watching places like Maricopa and Lackawanna, Tarrant County, and, yes, Broward.

After months of Black Lives Matter protests and the political fallout from the demands for defunding the police department still settling, and with ongoing anti-police demonstrations still happening nightly, Seattle officials have struck a cautious tone regarding possible unrest in the coming days.

The city says Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office has been “closely coordinating with the Governor, County Executive, and City departments for a safe and secure Election Day” and that it “has not received any reports of threats or events for Election Day.”

A demonstration blocked E Pike as Clinton conceded to Trump in 2016 (Image: CHS)

Saturday night brought another demonstration and property damage amid weeks of demonstrations on the streets of Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

“As of this writing, the Seattle Police Department nor other law enforcement agencies do not have any intelligence to indicate that there are any threats for Election Day or the days following. Our partners at King County Elections have not reported any threats or security issues at any ballot boxes,” a message sent Friday from the city’s Office of Economic Development to business and community organizations across the city reads. “As such, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and other law enforcement agencies have been planning for contingency purposes only in order to be prepared for a wide range of scenarios.”

Seattle Police officials this weekend also announced efforts around “De-escalation, Communication, Protest Medics and Media” and changes to the way they handle demonstrations.

SPD commanders have been more explicit, telling community groups the department is prepared for large-scale civil unrest after the election without citing reported threats or specifics about the department’s concerns. “We don’t know what’s going to happen during the election, so we’re preparing for the whole week, from Sunday to Sunday, planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” and SPD representative told a community crime group last week.

Meanwhile, there will be no candidate parties in Pike/Pine this year. If you’re looking for community, the 43rd District Democrats are hosting a virtual party. After weeks and months of nightly protests, another demonstration seems likely. And maybe, just maybe, the results will be happy enough for socially distanced Election Night dancing in the streets of Capitol Hill. It’s been awhile.

2012 at 10th and Pike (Image: Alex Crick for CHS)

UPDATE 11/3/2020 8:30 AM: The Washington Secretary of State’s office has released on overview of how the first state tallies will be announced and the ongoing process of counting votes:

On election night, each of the 39 county election offices will release results shortly after 8 p.m. At that time, counties will tabulate all of the ballots with signatures that have been processed; the signature on the ballot envelope must match the signature on the voter’s registration record in order to be counted.

Most counties will have PDF results posted on their webpage before the Office of the Secretary of State is able to display statewide results, as they undergo additional auditing and cybersecurity checks.

The office says Washington ballots are not tabulated by counties until after the voting period closes at 8 PM on Election Day. “Following the initial results release on election night, no further results will be reported until November 4th. Washington’s largest counties will post updated results daily while counties with a population of less than 75,000 are required to report at least every three days,” the update reads.

Updated results will be regularly posted through the 21-day certification window. Each county will post their next tabulation date and time along with how many estimated ballots they have left on-hand to process each time they update their results. Results are not final until counties certify them on November 24th. The Secretary of State has until December 3rd to certify the 2020 General Election returns.

In Washington, counties will continue to receive valid ballots by mail after November 3rd. “Any ballot postmarked on Nov. 3 or earlier is considered on-time and will be processed,” the Secretary of State announcement reads.

UPDATE x2: One of the Hill’s largest venues with room to spread out has announced it will be streaming results live on Election Night. You can stop by Optimism masked and ready to experience democracy starting at 4:30 PM.

UPDATE x3: For further inspiration, here’s what the Pike/Pine/Broadway celebration looked like in 2008:

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4 months ago

And how did 2008 work out for us? Drone strikes and Guantanamo never closed.

Best not to look for salvation in politicians.

4 months ago
Reply to  SaveOurselves

And where should we look for salvation? Black Bloc? The CHAZ? Somehow I think civic participation can have a more positive impact on the community than trying to burn down the Olive Way Starbucks.

4 months ago
Reply to  Adam

I totally agree and didn’t mean that anarchy was the answer.

People seem to be treating politicians as “the one true answer” or “the one true problem”, when the truth is that blind adherence to them is just as futile as antifa-like morons burning the city down.

3 months ago
Reply to  SaveOurselves

The politicians elect judges. The judges make the decisions that affect the civil rights of the groups that progressives claim to be marching for. That’s what Democrats seem to forget when they say it doesn’t matter who the President is or choose not to vote because we have an establishment Democrat running. It’s disheartening that young voter turnout was exactly the same as it was in 2016 despite all their activism, because it seems like they still haven’t learned that lesson.