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Need shopping ideas? Check out your State Archives! ?>

Need shopping ideas? Check out your State Archives!

Photo courtesy Washington State Archives

With Christmas just weeks away, many of us might want to give a relative or that special friend a unique gift that you won’t see on TV and just can’t find in a big store, a catalog or online.

But you might not know what to get or where to get it. Here’s an idea: Buy a wonderful historic photo from the State Archives!

Besides having millions and millions of public documents, our State Archives has thousands of interesting historical photos from various parts of Washington. And if you’re looking for photos of historical homes and buildings in King County, the Archives’ Puget Sound regional branch has a huge collection to explore.

The Seattle P-I did this recent story about how the King County assessor in the late 1930s did an extensive survey of all county properties and how county assessor’s staff took a photo of each house or building. Those photos can be found in the Puget Sound regional branch. The article also tells how to begin your photo search.

Just think how excited a grandmother or uncle would be to receive a photo of the house or apartment he or she grew up in – the way it looked back then! Or imagine the wonder of seeing the actual house where your great-grandmother was raised.

The Puget Sound branch charges a $15 fee for 30 minutes of staff photo scanning time or $22 for an 8-by-10 photo from a negative. There is no fee for reusing the photos. If you need specific prices or more info on photos, call the Puget Sound branch at (425) 564-3940 or e-mail them at

If you want to buy a copy of a historical home photo, you should submit your request by Dec. 15 so you get it in time for Christmas. Even then, the Puget Sound branch staff can’t guarantee it will be ready by then, so place your order soon. You need to make an appointment for in-person research.

And if you have questions about other photos or documents, contact the State Archives in Olympia at (360) 586-1492 or

Census: King County to offer elections material in Vietnamese ?>

Census: King County to offer elections material in Vietnamese

Our Elections Division received word Wednesday morning from the U.S. Census Bureau on which political jurisdictions in Washington and other states must provide language assistance during elections for groups who are unable to sufficiently speak or understand English to take part in voting.

The Census announcement  shows that King is the only county in Washington that is impacted by the new Census determinations based on the minority language provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act.

King County already is subject to the VRA’s minority language requirements, as it currently provides elections materials in Chinese. With the new determinations, King County also will have to provide information in Vietnamese. We don’t expect King to print Vietnamese ballots until the next scheduled election, in February.

Adams, Franklin and Yakima Counties have provided materials in Spanish since 2002. (more…)

Hate moving? Imagine King County Elections’ headache ?>

Hate moving? Imagine King County Elections’ headache

movingJust as Washington’s largest county elections department was settling in to a state-of-the-art headquarters building, they’ve had to move, at least temporarily, to avoid possible flood waters from the Howard Hanson Dam.

The department, which tends to the needs of over 1.1 million registered voters, has just opened its new temporary home on the grounds of Boeing Field, on East Marginal Way not far from the Museum of Flight. Elections Director Sherril Huff says the move from Renton to Tukwila has gone very well, and that the county-owned facility will accommodate the agency just fine.  The operation, which includes 61 full-time employees plus seasonal crews, will remain at the new location until the Renton headquarters is deemed safe from future Green River flooding or an alternative long-term location is found, Huff says.

The old phone numbers and email addresses still work. (more…)

King County jurist declines to block R-71 ?>

King County jurist declines to block R-71

fyiKing County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector has refused to block
Referendum 71 from the ballot. Further litigation is considered likely, but state attorneys expect the R-71 election to be on the Nov. 3 ballot across Washington state.  Most voters will be voting by mail; the earliest ballots, for military and overseas voters, must go out by Oct. 3.

Minutes after Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the measure to the statewide ballot, the judge turned aside a challenge brought earlier this week by supporters of the state’s new “everything but marriage” domestic partner law.  R-71 sponsors, foes of the new law,  Senate Bill 5688, want voters to reject the legislation. A coalition called Washington Families Standing Together, will ask voters to approve the law.

Judge Spector seemed to agree with some of the concerns raised by WFST in their lawsuit. She said the Constitution and laws of Washington require that a person be a registered voter before signing a petition. “While it may be common practice for individuals to register simultaneously with signing referendum petitions, and may even be good policy, that does not mean that the practice is in accordance with Washington law,” she wrote. The state Elections Division has accepted signatures of people who are found in the state voter registration database at the time of the signature-check, some of them newly registersed.

The judge also said sponsors submitted over 35,000 signatures on petitions that were not personally signed by the person who circulated the petition. The Elections Division does not throw out signatures on petitions with a missing personal signature by the solicitor, citing a 2006 attorney general’s opinion that notes that state law doesn’t require the actual signature, only that a declaration form be printed on each petition.


Judge hears challenge of R-71 signature-checking ?>

Judge hears challenge of R-71 signature-checking

fyiKing County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector has heard arguments in a court case challenging the state Election Division’s signature-checking for Referendum 71,  the attempt by foes of the state’s new “everything but marriage” law to force a public vote on the legislation in November.

The judge took the case under advisement and said she will rule on Wednesday morning.

That is the same time frame as Secretary of State Sam Reed’s for certifying R-71 to the ballot.  The Elections Division announced Monday afternoon that sponsors had exceeded by about 900 signatures the 120,577 minimum needed to qualify for the ballot.  Final numbers were expected to broaden that margin a bit as formerly rejected signatures are found on the lists of newly registered voters.

Arguments by supporters of the new law centered around the acceptance of over 35,000 signatures without a full declaration on the petitions signed by the signature-gatherer, and whether it is valid to accept signatures of people who signed up to become voters at the same time they signed petitions. The Elections Division has accept signers who are found on current lists of registered voters, and has not rejected voter signatures on petitions without the full declaration by the solicitor.


Lawsuit filed against Secretary of State over R-71 ?>

Lawsuit filed against Secretary of State over R-71

fyiA lawsuit has been filed in King County Superior Court by Washington Families Standing Together requesting a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the Secretary of State from certifying Referendum 71 to the ballot.  The Secretary of State is the defendant in the lawsuit.

The Attorney General’s Office and Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even will represent the Secretary of State in the lawsuit.

The attorneys are scheduling hearings for early next week in King County Superior Court.  The case has been assigned to King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector.

Copies of the plaintiffs’ litigation documents are available here .

The R-71 signature check is almost finished. State Elections Director Nick Handy announced Wednesday that the Elections Division expects to have the signature check completed by September 1 and to be in a position at that time to either certify or reject the petition based upon the results of the signature check.  The law requires 120,577 valid Washington voter signatures for the referendum to be placed on the November statewide ballot.

The lawsuit plaintiffs support Senate Bill 5688, the “everything but marriage” law that was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gregoire this year. The measure expands state rights and responsibilities to state-registered domestic partners so that they equal those granted to married couples.

Noble’s successor: All-comers to clash in KingCo ?>

Noble’s successor: All-comers to clash in KingCo

kingcountyKing County voters will chose an assessor successor to Scott Noble this November.

Noble, assessor for 16 years before resigning Thursday, was sentenced Friday to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to a felony count of vehicular homicide, in connection with a wrong-way crash on Interstate 5 that injured two women and himself. Authorities said his blood alcohol level was almost  three times the legal limit. The wreck was Jan. 18; he stayed on the job another five months.

State elections official Katie Blinn says his resignation came too late to allow a primary election. Instead, King County Elections will open a special three-day filing period, probably after mid-August, and all candidates will appear on the November 3 ballot, with the top vote-getter declared the winner with no further runoff. Rich Medved, who had been chief deputy, will move up to interim assessor. Medved and Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara are said to be interested in running in November.

King of the hill … and happy snail mail ?>

King of the hill … and happy snail mail

kingcountyKing County (Seattle) has now officially shifted to conducting all elections by mail. With neighboring Pierce (Tacoma) now the only holdout for partial use of poll-site voting, Washington has nearly completed a dramatic, and voluntary, shift to all-mail voting over the past decade.

The state Elections Division recently gave provisional approval to new, faster ballot tabulation equipment, and King County Elections’ new popularly elected director, Sherril Huff, greenlighted all-mail voting. The County Council on Monday made it official, adopting an ordinance.  Huff’s office says, “We are ecstatic about this decision and well-prepared to become the largest (local) jurisdiction in the nation to conduct all-mail voting.”

The Legislature, at the request of the Secretary of State, previously authorized no-excuse permanent absentee voting, and then okayed local-option so counties could decide for themselves when or if to make the switcheroo. Now most of us vote this way.

Faster, faster: King, Pierce voting systems green-lighted ?>

Faster, faster: King, Pierce voting systems green-lighted

greenlightNew vote-tabulation equipment in Washington’s two largest counties soon will get emergency certification from the Secretary of State. 

The State Voting Systems Review Board, meeting in Seattle on Thursday, unanimously recommended a provisional green light while awaiting federal certification, which is in the final stages. For Pierce County, it’s for renewal of last year’s emergency certification of Sequoia equipment for “ranked choice voting” for county offices. For King, it’s certification of Premier election equipment that is much, much faster than the old system.

State Elections Director Nick Handy was pleased with the vote, and said Secretary Reed will sign the necessary paperwork soon, probably next week.  “This has been a very long  journey for King County to get a modern, efficient, cost-effective system that is responsive to the needs of one of the largest, most complex voting jurisdictions in America.  Our office has been very impressed with the thorough, rigorous testing. Over 1.5 million ballots have been run through the machinery (in tests during) in the last three months, and we are satisfied that this system will be able to handle King County and its 39 cities and over 150 different jurisdictions.”

Handy says the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is expected to release lab test results by June 9 and final certification after that.  With the state’s blessings, the new tabulation equipment will be used in the August 18 primary for county executive and other offices in the county. A relieved King County Elections Director Sherril Huff said the old equipment has been used in 63 elections and has outlasted its usefulness. The population boom and “increased complexities” has made the switch even more essential, she says.  The equipment was financed with a federal grant.

Down to two for king of King ?>

Down to two for king of King

kingcountyA 16-member panel of movers and shakers, assisted by separately elected officials and a laundry list of selection criteria, have come up with two recommended finalists to be the interim King County Executive.  They are former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and Kurt Triplett, the acting interim Executive and the immediate past chief of staff to the departed Executive Ron Sims.

Yup, that’s a whole lot of work for a seat-filler job for a half-year until the voters elect a successor to Sims, who just was sworn in as President Obama’s deputy secretary of housing. None of the numerous actual candidates went for the interim pick, knowing that it was a placeholder appointment for someone who wouldn’t file next month for the campaign. The whole elaborate appointment process has included nominations from the County Council and interviews and culling by the screening panel that described itself as bipartisan and “representing the economic, geographic and ethnic diversity of the county.” Their list of selection criteria was truly … lengthy. The two known Republican finalists and only woman finalist missed the final cut for this nonpartisan office.

The full council will pick the interim dude on Monday morning. Ain’t politics fun?