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Gov. Inslee & Secretary Wyman certify 2016 election ?>

Gov. Inslee & Secretary Wyman certify 2016 election

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Secretary Wyman and Gov. Inslee certify the 2016 General Election returns. (Photos courtesy of Patrick McDonald)

Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Gov. Jay Inslee have certified the returns for the 2016 General Election, including a record number of ballot measures and hotly contested races from the White House to local offices. The election drew record voter registrations of nearly 4.3 million and the most ballots ever counted in the state, over 3.36 million.  The turnout was nearly 79 percent, the ninth best in the country.

The heavy voter engagement tracked the four-year cycle of elections, with the presidential-gubernatorial always generating the most interest and turnout. Besides the heavily publicized race for president, voters chose the state’s congressional and legislative delegations, the governor and all nine statewide executives, a third of the Supreme Court, nine ballot measures, and a number of local races and propositions, including the $54 billion Sound Transit vote in central Puget Sound.

The results were officially certified by Inslee and Wyman at a signing ceremony in the governor’s office. Both were in a good mood — both were winners for re-election — and bantered as they signed a number of documents.

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Wyman and Inslee with members of Wyman’s staff who attended the certification ceremony.

Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, said state and county election officials were gratified at the strong voter interest and the cybersecurity of the election systems. It was one of the most scrutinized campaign and election cycles in history, she noted. She added:

“It was gratifying to see that our systems in Washington remained safe and secure and that voters can be confident in the outcomes.”

A recap from our earlier blog post:

Like the other West Coast states, Washington went into the Democratic column for president even while Republican Donald Trump was picking up an Electoral College victory elsewhere. Hillary Clinton took 54 percent in Washington, to Trump’s 38 percent, a margin of about 500,000 votes. The state hasn’t voted GOP for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

One interesting footnote: more than 150,000 voters skipped the presidential race or picked a write-in who was not on the ballot. Four years ago, the dropoff was much lower, about 47,000.

Democrats also prevailed in most of the statewide races. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray won another six-year term, 59-41 over Republican Chris Vance. Inslee was re-elected 54-46 over Republican challenger Bill Bryant. State Sen. Cyrus Habib defeated Republican Marty McClendon 54-46 in the  open lieutenant governor’s race. Attorney General Bob Ferguson easily rebuffed Libertarian Joshua Trumbull 67-33. Mike Kreidler won another term as state insurance commissioner, defeating Republican Richard Schrock 58-42. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy won an open race for state auditor, 52-48 over Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia. Newcomer Hilary Franz defeated Republican Steve McLaughlin for the open lands commissioner race, 53-47.

Republicans ended up with two of the eight partisan statewide races. Wyman defeated Democrat Tina Podlodowski 55-45 and Duane Davidson defeated fellow Republican Michael Waite 58-42 for the open spot as state treasurer. It was the first time that two statewide candidates from the same party faced off in the General Election after emerging from the Top 2 Primary.

The open nonpartisan contest for state schools superintendent was by far the closest statewide race and was not declared for several weeks. State Rep. Chris Reykdal edged Erin Jones 50.5-49.5.

Three incumbent Supreme Court justices, Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins, were all handily re-elected.

All 98 House seats and 26 Senate races were on the ballot. Despite millions being spent on key races, the bottom line was almost unchanged. Democrats will continue to hold a 50-48 majority in the House and Republicans will have a 25-24 edge in the Senate, following defeat of Republican Steve Litzow, with Democrat Tim Sheldon continuing to caucus with the GOP majority coalition.

Statewide voters approved Initiative 1433, minimum wage and family leave, 57-43; I-1491, firearms restrictions, 69-31;  I-1501, records exemptions for care workers, 71-29; I-735, urging a U.S. constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision; 63-37; and SJR 8210, requiring earlier passage of redistricting plans, 77-23.

Voters rejected I-1464, campaign finance reform, 54-46; and I-732, carbon tax, 59-41.

(more…)

2016 Election: Record 3.36m ballots counted ?>

2016 Election: Record 3.36m ballots counted

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Washington counties have certified the returns in the hotly contested 2016 elections that attracted record voter registrations of nearly 4.3 million and the most ballots ever counted in the state, over 3.36 million.  The turnout was nearly 79 percent, a strong showing nationally.

The spike in voter engagement reflects the four-year cycle of elections, with the presidential-gubernatorial always generating the most interest and turnout. Voters’ plates were full this year. Besides the heavily publicized race for president, voters were choosing their congressional delegation, most of the Legislature, the governor and all nine statewide executives, a third of the Supreme Court, nine ballot measures, and a number of local races and propositions, including the $54 billion Sound Transit vote in central Puget Sound.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer and a 24-year veteran of county and state election administration, said election officials were gratified at the strong voter interest and the cybersecurity of the election systems.

“This was probably the most scrutinized election since the ultra-close race for governor in 2004, with news reports of potential interference by Russian hackers and potential intrusions on election systems, as well as candidates talking about ‘rigged’ elections. Thus it was gratifying to see that our systems in Washington remained safe and secure and that voters can be confident in the outcomes.”

Like the other West Coast states, Washington went into the Democratic column for president even while Republican Donald Trump was picking up an Electoral College victory elsewhere. Hillary Clinton took 54 percent in Washington, to Trump’s 38 percent, a margin of about 500,000 votes. The state hasn’t voted GOP for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

One interesting footnote: more than 150,000 voters skipped the presidential race or picked a write-in who was not on the ballot. Four years ago, the dropoff was much lower, about 47,000.

Democrats also prevailed in most of the statewide races. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray won another six-year term, 59-41 over Republican Chris Vance. Jay Inslee was re-elected 54-46 over Republican challenger Bill Bryant. State Sen. Cyrus Habib defeated Republican Marty McClendon 54-46 in the  open lieutenant governor’s race. Attorney General Bob Ferguson easily rebuffed Libertarian Joshua Trumbull 67-33. Mike Kreidler won another term as state insurance commissioner, defeating Republican Richard Schrock 58-42. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy won an open race for state auditor, 52-48 over Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia. Newcomer Hilary Franz defeated Republican Steve McLaughlin for the open lands commissioner race, 53-47.

Republicans ended up with two of the eight partisan statewide races. Wyman defeated Democrat Tina Podlodowski 55-45 and Duane Davidson defeated fellow Republican Michael Waite 58-42 for the open spot as state treasurer. It was the first time that two statewide candidates from the same party faced off in the General Election after emerging from the Top 2 Primary.

The open nonpartisan contest for state schools superintendent was by far the closest statewide race and was not declared for several weeks. State Rep. Chris Reykdal edged Erin Jones 50.5-49.5.

Three incumbent Supreme Court justices, Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins, were (more…)

`Watershed year’: WA voting season under way! ?>

`Watershed year’: WA voting season under way!

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Washington’s voting period for the 2016 Election is under way, with counties mailing about 4.2 million ballots and awaiting a robust turnout of at least 80 percent.

A handful of counties sent ballots on Tuesday and nearly all the rest were scheduled to go out Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is the deadline for outbound mail. Deadline for a postmark is Election Day, Nov. 8, and drop boxes may be used before 8 p.m. that day.

A record 4,250,526 Washington residents are registered. About 72,000 military and overseas ballots were mailed by Sept. 24.

The state’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, is looking for a big turnout:

“We are seeing exceptional interest in this presidential-year election.  Since April, more than 250,000 new voters have registered, including an unprecedented surge of 50,000 just before this month’s deadline for online, motor voter and mail-in registration.

“There really is something for everyone in this election. We have perhaps the most fascinating and unpredictable presidential race in history, with 24-7 news coverage. We also face the largest number of ballot measures ever, plus the big Sound Transit vote in three Puget Sound counties. The ballot also features congressional races, the fight for control of both houses of the Legislature, all nine statewide offices, the judiciary and many local races and propositions.

“This really is a watershed year in this country and this state, and I urge every registered voter to take part. This is the prime opportunity for every voice to be heard.”

Wyman stressed that despite recent reports of Russian attempts to hack state election systems and attacks on “rigged” elections, “We have full and complete confidence in the integrity of our system. Elections professionals will treat every voted ballot will great care and security. Every vote will be tabulated as the voter intended.”

The state is working with cybersecurity experts and independent reviewers to make sure the system remains secure, and county tabulation systems are air-gapped and not hooked up to the Internet, said state Elections Director Lori Augino. Said Wyman:

“We have multiple layers of security, both physical and electronic.”

Wyman and many county auditors are recommending that the 2017 Legislature adopt REAL ID legislation that will give election administrators a tool for assuring that voters who register document their citizenship, as required by state and federal law.

Although the presidential race has drawn much of the media and voter interest, voters will also choose the governor and other statewide elected officials. Five of the incumbents are not seeking re-election: lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, lands commissioner and superintendent of public instruction. For the first time, a statewide race will feature two finalists from the same party. Republican candidates for state treasurer finished 1-2 in the Top 2 August Primary and advanced.

Voters statewide will ballot for a U.S. Senate seat and 10 U.S. House seats are up this year, including the 7th District, where the dean of the state delegation, Jim McDermott, is retiring and two Democrats emerged from the Top 2 Primary. In the 4th District, two Republicans are the finalists.

Most of the Legislature is on the ballot, too, including all 98 House seats and 26 of the 49 Senate positions.

Three state Supreme Court races are on the ballot, as are other judicial posts.

Six citizen initiatives await, including minimum wage, carbon tax, gun restrictions under “extreme risk” protection orders, campaign finance reform, identity protection for seniors and vulnerable individuals, and challenge of the Citizens United ruling. A constitutional amendment would set an earlier deadline for future redistricting. Two tax advisory votes also await.

The Elections Division recently mailed Voters’ Pamphlets to 3.3 million households in 32 zoned editions.

Looking for other ways to study the candidates and ballot measures?
• MyVote – Visit www.myvote.wa.gov to view your candidates and ballot measures.

  • Online Voters’ Guide – View all state candidates and ballot measures online at MyVote.wa.gov. There are versions in English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese, as well as an audio version of the Voters’ Pamphlet.
  • Video Voters’ Guide – Our Elections Division and TVW have again teamed up to offer the 2016 Video Voters Guide, which includes statements by candidates for  federal and statewide offices, as well as the three state Supreme Court positions on the ballot, and pro and con arguments on the statewide ballot measures.
WA Election crews begin checking initiatives ?>

WA Election crews begin checking initiatives

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State election crews have begun checking on voter signatures submitted for four citizen initiatives. First up:  Initiative 1433, a plan to boost the state minimum wage to $13.50 in stages and require employers to provide paid sick leave. The minimum wage currently is $9.47 and rises annually with the CPI under terms of an earlier voter-approved initiative.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Monday the I-1433 campaign submitted 345,907 signatures, nearly 100,000 more than the bare minimum needed to secure a place on the fall statewide ballot.

The office suggests that sponsors turn in at least 325,000 signatures, to cover duplicate and invalid signatures. Using computer-generated random sampling, crews will check 10,412 of the signatures. The process should wrap up later this week.

Next in line will be I-1491, dealing with gun restrictions under temporary “extreme risk protection orders.”

After that, crews will check I-1501, dealing with “protection of seniors and vulnerable individuals from financial crimes and victimization.”

And finally, I-1464 will be checked. This would create a state-funded campaign finance program.

Two other citizen-generated measures, Initiatives to the Legislature 732 (carbon taxes) and 735 (opposing Citizen United court decision), already have qualified for the fall ballot.

WA initiative season underway ?>

WA initiative season underway

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As WA lawmakers prepare to open their session on Monday, the people’s process of writing laws by initiative got its start Friday.

By mid-afternoon, 24 proposals were filed with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, including 13 from initiative activist Tim Eyman. His measures deal with making it tougher to raise taxes in Olympia, bringing back $30 car tabs, express lane tolls, and other issues.

Kurt Ludden of Seattle filed seven initiatives, dealing with medical marijuana, and the initiative process.  Other sponsors submitted measures dealing with a single-payer health insurance system for Washington, grandparents’ visitation rights, and faculty carrying handguns.

The process of filing is easy — pay a $5 filing fee and submit the proposed wording.  History shows, however, that usually only a few actually make the ballot. It takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters — and the Elections Division recommends bringing in at least 325k to cover duplicate and invalid signatures.  The deadline this year is July 8.

Initiatives are sent to the state code reviser for review as to form, and then on to the attorney general for a ballot title. Ballot titles can be challenges by sponsors or foes in court. After all that, it is up to sponsors whether to actually print up 20,000 or more actual petition sheets for signature collection. Many sponsors do not take that final step, and many do not gather enough signatures to qualify.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kim Wyman has provisionally certified two initiatives to the Legislature as the Elections Division begins the signature-verification process. They are I-732, dealing with carbon taxes, and I-735, petitioning for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign fundraising.

 

WA Election 2014 under way; 62% turnout forecast ?>

WA Election 2014 under way; 62% turnout forecast

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Washington’s General Election is under way.  About 65,000 military and overseas ballots were going out by Saturday, Sept. 20, many of them sent electronically, and those voters are able to begin voting as soon as they receive their ballots.

The other 3.8 million registered voters will be getting ballots and Voters’ Pamphlets by this time next month. The 18-day voting period kicks off Oct. 17.

Ballots can be voted any time after they are received. They may be returned by mail, in person, or by using a county-supplied dropbox.  Postmark deadline is Election Day, Nov. 4; dropboxes may be used until 8 p.m. Election Day.  Results will be available online and via smart-phone apps after 8 p.m. Election Night.

Deadline for online and mail-in voter registration is Oct. 6.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman is forecasting a 62 percent voter participation for the mid-term election, or roughly double the turnout in this year’s primary.  The 62 percent figure is lower than the turnout for the two previous midterm elections (71 percent in 2010 and 65 percent in 2006), primarily because this year we have no U.S. Senate

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Second gun initiative certified ?>

Second gun initiative certified

 

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Boxes of Initiative 591 signatures were delivered to the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State in late November. 

(UPDATE: Fixes number of signatures filed for I-591)

Secretary of State Kim Wyman has officially certified Initiative 591 to go before the legislature this session.

I-591 is the second gun-related measure before the legislature and would prohibit government agencies from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.

Sponsors of I-591 submitted 349,860 petition signatures in late November exceeding the minimum requirement of 246,372 valid voter signatures, Elections official said Thursday.

The high number of signatures submitted qualified I-591 for a 3 percent random sample check. This meant that out of 19,749 pages of signatures, 10,669 signatures were checked for validity. Checkers accepted 9,286 of the signatures sampled, while 1,383 were rejected. Of those rejected, 1,285 were because the signers were not registered voters in Washington and 72 did not match those on file. The rest were rejected as duplicates or because the signature image was pending.

The rival of I-591, initiative 594, has already been certified by the Office of Secretary of State and would require universal background checks on gun purchases. I-594 sponsors submitted 346,834 signatures.

The Senate and House held hearings on both measures earlier this week. Lawmakers are not expected to approve either alternative meaning both initiatives would then appear on the fall statewide ballot.

More information on current initiatives to the legislature can be found here.

WA 2013 election underway this week ?>

WA 2013 election underway this week

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Washington’s general Election Day used to be just that, a single day in November.  Today, it’s an election season of nearly three weeks — and the 2013 edition gets underway this week.

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 16, ballots are being mailed to over 3.9 million registered voters — a near-record.  Voters may fill out their ballots right away or hold off awhile. Although election officials recommend returning ballots promptly, the voter does face a Nov. 5 deadline to have their ballot postmarked or, alternatively, return it to an official drop box by 8 p.m.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman is forecasting 51 percent voter participation, about average for an off-year election. That would be nearly double the August primary turnout of 26 percent, but well below the 81 percent last year for a ballot that included the White House race, governor and three other wide-open statewide elective offices, gay marriage and marijuana legalization, all 10 congressional seats and most of the Legislature, and judicial races.

Wyman said the election still has plenty to offer a voter, including:

  • Statewide ballot measures, including the closely watched, high-spending I-522 battle over labeling of genetically engineered foods; and I-517, brought forward by initiative activist Tim Eyman, dealing with the initiative process itself.  Under provisions of a previous Eyman initiative passed by the voters, there will also be five non-binding tax advisory votes for people to express their support or opposition to revenue measures approved earlier this year by the Legislature.  The measures will be numbered 3 through 7.  Where are No. 1 and 2? Voters acted on those last year.
  • Three special state Senate races, including a pivotal 26th District clash between appointed Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher and his GOP challenger, state Rep. Jan Angel.  The other two races, in the 7th and 8th districts in Eastern Washington, also have an interesting twist: each features two Republicans.  The state’s Top 2 Primary sends the two biggest vote-getters to the General Election ballot without regard to party preference.  Although there has never been a one-party final election for statewide or congressional office, it is sometimes seen in essentially one-party legislative districts.
  •  Local races and measures. A variety of local contests also add interest to the ballot.  The state Senate’s Democratic leader, Ed Murray, emerged first in a crowded primary to take on one-term incumbent Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. If elected, Murray would be the first openly gay mayor of the Northwest’s largest city. He was architect of the state gay-marriage law ratified by the voters last fall. King County Executive Dow Constantine is running for re-election. Thurston County Auditor Gary Alexander, the senior GOP budgetwriter in the Legislature and Wyman’s appointed successor at the courthouse, is running for the remainder of the term. Dozens of other local government races also dot the ballot, including school boards, ports, city and county councils, mayors, and fire, water and sewer districts.  Bonds and levies are on the ballot, and in a nationally-watched election in SeaTac, voters are asked whether to boost the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“The hyper-local races are incredibly important to citizens, from ports to parks,” said state Elections Director Lori Augino. “I urge voters to take part in this election, to do their homework and then vote their ballot without waiting until Election Day.”

 

High court overturns supermajority for taxes ?>

High court overturns supermajority for taxes

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The Washington Supreme Court, in a bombshell decision handed down just days before Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers tackle a multibillion-dollar budget gap, invalidated a popular voter-approved requirement of a two-thirds supermajority for taxes raised in Olympia.

The court, in a decisive 6-3 ruling, said the state Constitution clearly says a bill becomes a law by gaining a majority in each house. The justices noted that this is the first time the court directly answers the question of whether the voters violated the constitution by requiring a two-thirds vote in both houses to pass taxes in Olympia.

Justice Susan Owens, writing for the majority, said the court is taking no position on whether the supermajority idea makes good policy sense, but said if voters or the legislators want to depart from the age-old concept of simple majority rule, they’ll have to amend the constitution.  Ironically, that would take a two-thirds vote in both houses — plus voter approval.

The majority, which also included Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and Justices Tom Chambers, Mary Fairhurst, Charles Wiggins and Stephen Gonzalez, gave a long defense of the concept of simple majority and noted that the founders worried about a “tyranny of the minority” blocking the wishes of the majority.

Justices Charles Johnson and James Johnson penned separate dissents, rapping the majority for wading into the political arena in “unwise and unprecedented” fashion, misreading the constitution and overriding case law and the clear wishes of the electorate.

Reaction came quickly.  Inslee and many Democrats welcomed the court’s ruling.  Democrats said the opinion doesn’t open the floodgates, but allows an open discussion of simple-majority extension of expiring (more…)

New video looks at initiative process ?>

New video looks at initiative process

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The Office of Secretary of State has released an educational video entitled “A Look at the Washington State Initiative Process.” It gives an inside look at the journey of an initiative from conception to certification by our Elections Division.

The history of Washington’s initiative process, a detailed overview of the signature check procedures, and an explanation of the Legislature’s role are included. Commentary from Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Elections Division officials can be seen throughout the video.

Wyman and her staff are strong supporters of citizen activism and the initiative process and its ability to allow Washingtonians to have a role in the lawmaking process.

The video can be seen here on Youtube. Enjoy!