WA 2016 Election: The count goes on

WA 2016 Election: The count goes on


As Washington’s vote tally continues through the week, voters were re-electing most incumbents and siding with Hillary Clinton in her losing White House bid.

Before Wednesday’s updates, more than 2 million votes had been counted, better than 48 percent of the record 4.24 million ballots that were sent out last month.  Counties reported receiving 2.7 million ballots by mail or drop box, a 63 percent return rate, as of Election Day, not counting evening drop box pickups. Heavy mail volumes were expected Wednesday and Thursday, with most votes expected to be counted by the end of the week, said state Elections Director Lori Augino.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said turnout is running higher than at the comparable time four years ago. The final turnout should exceed 80 percent and could even set a new record, she said. That mark was set eight years ago, with a turnout of 84.6 percent. Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, added:

“We are delighted with the heavy voter participation. It is so healthy for democracy to have more than eight out of 10 voters casting ballots for their elected leaders and state and local  measures. People were truly engaged this year, and we saw record voter registrations and maybe even record turnout.”

Augino gave high marks to county election partners and said she was pleased that election systems were affirmed to be cybersecure. She added:

“In this time of heightened security and concern about cyber attacks, we were pleased to again have an event-free election. We’re pleased to be working with the Department of Homeland Security and experts in the cybersecurity field to make sure state and local election systems are free of outside tampering. We’ll remain vigilant.”

Washington returns had a “blue” hue, re-electing Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray by landslide margins. Democrats also were winning open races for lieutenant governor, state auditor and land commissioner with Cyrus Habib, Pat McCarthy and Hilary Franz, respectively. Incumbent Democrats were easily winning re-election as attorney general and insurance commissioner. The nonpartisan open race for state school superintendent was too close to call.

Wyman, who has been the only Republican in statewide office in the state and on the West Coast, was winning a second term and Duane Davidson was elected to the open state treasurer’s office over a fellow Republican. It was the first time a statewide contest featured two candidates from the same party.

The state awarded its 12 electoral votes to Clinton. She was defeating the national winner, Donald Trump, by 56-38 in Washington.

State Sen. Pramila Jayapal won an open 7th Congressional District seat against a fellow Democrat. All other nine incumbents easily won new two-year terms.

The race for control of the Legislature was still a bit unsettled, with some races still too close to call. Most analysts were seeing a net loss of one Republican Senate seat, still leaving the majority GOP coalition in control. Democrats were expected to maintain narrow control of the state House.

Voters approved a minimum wage and family leave initiative (I-1433) and controls on gun access for “extreme risk” persons (I-1491). Voters also approved measures dealing with shielding records for home care workers (I-1501) and requesting a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling (I-735).

Voters rejected a carbon tax plan (I-732) and campaign finance reforms (I-1464).

A noncontroversial constitutional amendment was easily approved to require future redistricting plans to be produced earlier in 2021 and beyond.

Three incumbent Supreme Court justices were winning new six-year terms.

Many locales had local elections and local propositions. The big Sound Transit expansion vote was passing in a district that included Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, 55-45.

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