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As demonstrations march, Capitol Hill weathers an excruciating Election Night — UPDATE: First WA results

(Image: Alex Garland/CHS)

(Image: Renee Raketty/CHS)

An excruciating Election Night on Seattle’s Capitol Hill was marked by unsurprising victories in the state for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and incumbent Governor Jay Inslee who claimed his third term in Olympia. Results from Washington’s first tally of ballot counts are below.

But the night’s attention remained on the national race for the White House where Donald Trump was mounting a defense that felt remarkably familiar to the Republican’s 2016 triumph. In an overnight speech, Trump said he had won the election and signaled his campaign would fight the continued counting of ballots in battleground states including Michigan and Pennsylvania. In King County, if you’re wondering, Trump managed just over 20% of the first tally of votes.

In Cal Anderson, dozens of protesters were reported gathering for an Election Night demonstration organized by groups that have maintained nightly anti-police marches through the neighborhood since the height of the summer’s Black Lives Matter activism. Police said there were two demonstrations underway in the city with marches starting in the South Lake Union at Cascade Park and another leaving Cal Anderson Park, headed west on Denny. UPDATE 9:25 PM: Clashes between protesters and police were reported underway in downtown Seattle. UPDATE 9:55 PM: After reports of property damage and a few arrests, SPD has pushed demonstrators up Denny back toward Capitol Hill.

In the first count of Washington results, the most closely watched local race got off to a tough start for the challenger with Seattle Peoples Party candidate Sherae Lascelles trailing Democratic incumbent Frank Chopp by a likely unsurmountable total in the race for the 43rd District, Position 2 seat in Olympia. Meanwhile, 43rd District incumbent Nicole Macri will clearly retain her seat. In the 37th covering the Central District and South Seattle, community organizer Kirsten Harris-Talley held off fellow Democrat Chukundi Salisbury to join incumbent Sharon Tomiko Santos in the legislature.

In the governor’s race, Democrat Inslee appears set to fully wallop Republican challenger Loren Culp. “COVID-19 has put our health and our economy through a crucible,” Inslee said in his statement on the results. “We will continue to fight for Washingtonians’ health and economic well-being. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to continue this crucial work.”

Referendum 90, which asks Washington voters to support or repeal recently-passed legislation, Senate Bill 5395, that requires schools to provide comprehensive sex education, also was making a strong showing in the Election Night ballot count. CHS reported here how the legislation will also mandate that the sex education curriculum be inclusive and provide appropriate information for LGBTQ youth.

In Seattle and King County results, Prop 1 for renewing transportation funding appeared to be a lock for approval. Progressives were also celebrating the early totals for the set of six King County Sheriff’s Office charter amendment votes including an amendment that will grant the King County Council the ability to decrease the department of public safety’s duties and another that would make the sheriff and appointed position. King County Prop. 1 that would approve a $1.74 billion bond measure to improve and expand First Hill’s Harborview Medical Center was also being overwhelmingly approved.

“While there are still many votes to be counted, I thank the voters of King County for their support for Harborview Medical Center,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “These investments will ensure that our region continues to be the best place in the country to receive emergency medical care, and needed seismic upgrades will protect the lives of patients, employees, and visitors to Harborview. Besides helping people with behavioral health needs and better preparing the region to fight pandemics, the measure creates thousands of family-wage construction jobs at a time when our region needs them the most.”

CHS reported here on the city’s preparations for possible Election Night unrest and unprecedented level of early voting as the people put the state’s strong mail-only election system to work during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Still, as the 8 PM deadline arrived, voters were seen dropping off last-minute ballots at the Broadway drop box outside Seattle Central. King County reported turnout clocking in at 80.1% as of 6 PM with a near 84% turnout in the 43rd State Legislative District including Capitol Hill.

Those seeking community during the night’s count either turned to the internet — the 43rd District Democrats were hosting a virtual watch party — or a few venues open with social distancing restriction like Optimism Brewing. At 11th and E Pine, a television tuned to election coverage was turned toward the street from the ground floor of the Sunset Electric apartment building where a small crowd gathered to watch the reports.

With the outcome of the race for the White House still uncertain, Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine core was unusually silent as COVID-19 restrictions continue to tamp down much of the area’s nightlife activities. As protesters marched elsewhere on the Hill, armed security guards were reported near building in the Pike/Pine area.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday night’s counts came from Washington’s 39 county election offices tabulating ballots with signatures that had already been processed. The next state count will be released here 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,” an update from the office reads.

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 said.

UPDATE 11/4/2020 6:30 AM: As the last push of voters scrambled to turn in their ballots Tuesday night at a King County Elections drop box outside Seattle Central, protesters gathered a block away on the north side of Cal Anderson. The occasional “Fuck Trump” could be heard echoing across the park.

Tailed by a large contingent of Seattle Police and with State Troopers staged in vehicles up and down I-5 to block access to the freeway, the group marched off the Hill and met another large protest at Denny and Fairview Ave N before the groups again separated and continued two separate protests through the city. The Capitol Hill demonstrators continued to move items into the street as the bulk of SPD officers were following close behind as the march passed the Amazon spheres.

As some demonstration groups were blocked from accessing the freeway, protesters encountered a man waiving a Trump campaign flag near Cascade Park. A protester snatched the flag out of the man’s hand. Later, a small group climbed the Cal Anderson Park water fountain and burned the flag to the cheers of most of the demonstrators assembled there.

Police reported eight arrests on the night for pedestrian interference, obstruction, assault on an officer, reckless driving, and criminal mischief. Police also deployed a new public address system to make announcements to the neighborhood as part of a new slate of policies and tactics around demonstrations. Tuesday night, the car-mounted loud speaker was reportedly used to broadcast an apology for the demonstration and police response to the neighborhood around Cal Anderson Park.

Wednesday night, Seattle activists and protest groups are planning a large demonstration beginning in PIoneer Square’s Occidental Park.

Demonstrators who have gathered in Cal Anderson nightly for months of demonstrations are also expected to march.

With reporting by Renee Raketty


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