Washington State election news covered through the eyes of UW students and faculty.
December 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM
We have filed more than 400 posts on U.S. presidential, state, and local politics over the past 12 months. It’s been an incredible experience as journalists, educators, and citizens. We’re now going to take a break, but we’ll be back in four years for the next presidential rodeo.
Nearly one year ago, on Jan. 14, I boarded an airplane with three University of Washington students and headed across the country. Our mission was epic: to spend a week on the ground reporting on the South Carolina 2012 Republican Party presidential primary. It was our first gig for UW Election Eye, a new blog partnership of the UW’s Department of Communication and The Seattle Times.
One week later I had a pretty good idea who was going to win the 2012 presidential election. Arizona congressional representative Trent Franks told me so.
Franks, one of the nation’s most conservative congressional members and a favorite of the tea party movement, was standing by Newt Gingrich’s bus as Gingrich spoke to supporters in his last stop of the state’s primary. A few hours later Gingrich would win his first statewide race in his life — a double-digit victory over Mitt Romney that upended the Republican primary for a time.
Franks was one of the few members of Congress to endorse Gingrich. A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich does not have many friends in high political places these days. But Franks is one of them, and he was traveling with Gingrich on the campaign trail.
I spoke with Franks for 10 minutes while Gingrich held court inside a restaurant. Franks told me why he supported Gingrich and why Barack Obama had to be defeated. I thanked him for talking with me and turned to walk away.
That’s when Franks surprised me.
He took hold of my arm and said, “Hold on, I’ve got one more thing to say.” I was listening. He stretched out his index finger and said “The 1 percent. We hear a lot about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Mitt Romney is a caricature of the 1 percent — rich, out of touch, doesn’t understand most of America. If Republicans nominate Romney in the midst of this terrible economic time, we’re going to lose. That’s why I’m here. We will lose if we pick Romney.”
That’s when I knew: If a diehard conservative, a red-blooded Republican who would do anything to get rid of Obama, thought Romney couldn’t win, then Romney almost certainly wouldn’t win.
That moment is one I’ll not forget. It was one of the hundreds of up-close-and-personal experiences, all over America, that defined UW Election Eye.
December 6, 2012 at 7:41 AM
Same-sex couples gathered in downtown Seattle today to get their marriage licenses. King County Executive Dow Constantine was on hand to sign marriage certificates, while syndicated columnist Dan Savage and others celebrated the landmark day in Washington State history. Here are some highlights.
November 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Some Washingtonians miss the satisfaction of visiting polling stations on election day. Some Washingtonians prefer the ease of voting from home on their own schedule. But no matter where your opinion falls on mail-in ballots, the correlation between them and increased voting rates is striking.
SEATTLE — Mail-in balloting has caused an increase of voter turnout as the Washington Secretary of State announced a 78.8% voter turnout to date. With one week to go until the office certifies the election results, it is thought that final turnout should land between 80 and 81%—in line with expectations.
San Juan County leads the way thus far with a turnout of 88.53%, while Thurston County (72.31%) is in last place with approximately 11,000 ballots yet to be counted. King County’s turnout is 79.34% but will likely crawl above 80% after the remaining ballots are counted.
Voter turnout has been buoyed by mail-in balloting in recent years. However, this year’s numbers falls short of the turnout in the past two presidential elections. Both 2004 (82.2%) and 2008 (84.6%) saw a greater percentage of voters turn out.
With the state rumored to be progressing toward an e-mail ballot solution similar to what is currently available for members of the military, voter turnout may continue to increase over the coming years.
November 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM
BELLEVUE — Would-be partiers in Bellevue turned in early last night as news of President Obama’s win filtered through the crowd at the Washington state Republican gathering.
Though the crowd anticipated a win by Rob McKenna, the Republican candidate for governor, those votes won’t be finally counted until later this week, so there was little left to party for Tuesday night after presidential hopeful Mitt Romney lost the national election. Most of the several hundred supporters gathered to party had dispersed by 11:30 p.m.
In the meantime, though, Republican supporters cheered on McKenna as he delivered a speech anticipating victory and spoke of the challenges he would face as the first Republican governor of Washington in nearly 30 years. Though McKenna was down by about 2.5 percent Tuesday night, Washington Republican Party chairman Kirby Wilbur said his team was prepared for a lag Tuesday and expect McKenna to pull ahead again when all the votes are counted later this week.
One such supporter was Seattle resident Shiao-Yen Wu, who said she and her Pomeranian, Zoro, are huge McKenna supporters. They’ve been to many McKenna rallies, so Wu decided to also bring Zoro along to the Washington State Republican Party’s final celebration of the election cycle.
November 7, 2012 at 1:32 AM
SEATTLE — Jay Inslee had not taken take the stage at the Seattle Westin tonight to proclaim victory in the Washington gubernatorial race, but that didn’t matter to the boisterous crowd surging up to the stage. Magnified on large screens on either side of his podium, voice cracking after weeks of hard campaigning, Inslee was barely audible over the frequent cheers of campaign workers and supporters.
It was when President Obama’s speech began to be live-streamed onto the same screens, alternately with the image of Inslee, that the latter succumbed to a long day and cries of “Obama! Obama!” and left the stage with his family and his supporters. Obama’s victory speech was punctuated by periodic bursts of applause and cheers by the crowd. On a night when the governor’s race remains too close to call with certainty, Democrats had no doubt about who their president will be for the next four years. As Obama ended his speech with the words “… we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America,” the crowd erupted in arm-waving, emotional approval.
Celebration at the landmark Seattle hotel was not confined to candidate races. Supporters of Referendum 74, which legitimizes gay marriage, also had cause to celebrate. “All LGBT youth will know that they’re loved and accepted by our society now,” said supporter Aaron Horton. A University of Washington student from Spokane who has helped work on the referendum campaign for the past six months, Horton added that he is excited at the prospect that he will not be constrained from marrying the person he chooses. “I’m excited to know that no one can tell me who to love,” he said.
November 6, 2012 at 7:17 PM
Two UWEE bloggers compare their experience on election night 2008 to tonight – a night full of memories and emotions.
SEATTLE – I remember four years ago: I was a freshman at the University of Washington and had just voted for the first time in my life. I remember feeling educated and that my voice mattered in regards to the future of my country.
I was sitting in the common room of my freshman residence hall when the results were announced, Barack Obama had won the 2008 election. The room went wild with excitement. Students hugged other students they’d never even met before. People shouting how this was the future of our country. But within minutes, many had jumped back into their homework. The girl next to me, whom I was still just getting to know, grabbed me by the hand and said, “Let’s go!”
We ran upstairs to our rooms, quickly changed and bolted to Red Square, the center of campus, where a crowd had already gathered. I stood on the steps of the oldest library on campus with thousands of my peers chanting slogans we’d heard throughout the election. Looking back now, it was truly one of the most thrilling moments of my young adult life.
The crowd marched across campus, people perched on shoulders and others holding signs. After over an hour of celebration, a large pack migrated to Capitol Hill, I however headed back to my hall. This year, I’m in Capitol Hill, ready to celebrate the second half of my night that I didn’t do in 2008. The only question now is if I’ll get the chance.
SEATTLE — I remember four years ago: the streets were packed in Capitol hill from edge to edge for blocks upon blocks with revelers celebrating then-candidate Obama’s win. I was one of them. I marched from the University District up to Capitol Hill to celebrate with throngs of the city’s liberal youth.
Today, as I drove my Vespa up to the hill for the Washington Bus election night watch party at Neumos the streets remained free of revelers, full of the usual traffic.
I expected a packed house. Perhaps everyone’s down at the Westin Hotel where the Approve Referendum 74 campaign is holding its watch party, where gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jay Inslee should be in attendance. The tables are mostly full and many are standing. Slowly throughout the last half hour the standing-room area has filled with more and more people.
My mind is racing a mile a minute: looking up at the large screen with CNN’s election broadcast, tapping this post away on my netbook, checking the Twittersphere constantly for other perspectives and news outlet predictions.
November 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Today, four states vote on marriage equality. In Maine, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination is hoping for a victory. UWEE spoke with their Executive Director, Lucky Hollander.
PORTLAND, Me. — Lucky Hollander walked into the Portland coffee shop like a woman on a mission. Because she was.
As Executive Director of Maine’s Religious Coalition Against Discrimination (RCAD), Hollander has been criss-crossing the state all year, encouraging leaders in faith communities to have what RCAD calls, “courageous conversations” about marriage equality.
“Even if a pastor or a rabbi is supporting of marriage equality, if they don’t take leadership and speak publicly, their conflicted congregants will not be able to make a decision,” said Hollander. “Their silence is more damaging to their congregation than hosting a ‘courageous conversation.’”
I interviewed Hollander in August. Today is November 6. Maine votes today on marriage equality—one of four states, including Washington, with marriage equality legislation on the ballot—and the race appears to be a dead heat.
That was August. Maine’s Yes on 1 campaign was polling at 57%. When I pointed this out, Hollander reminded me that three years ago the polling numbers were similar in August when Maine ultimately voted down a referendum to support marriage equality.
Today could mark the end of her mission as Maine votes on marriage equality. The state with the “I Lead” motto is one of four states, including Washington, with marriage equality legislation on the ballot.
Maine polls close tonight at 8:00 P.M EST.
November 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Update: Reports have confirmed that the Pennsylvania voting machine in question has been taken out of commission.
Multiple states across the country have tried to preempt voter fraud this election cycle. Largely driven by Republican legislators, these preventative measures have been decried as attempts at voter suppression, specifically of groups who tend to vote Democrat. Now, a video posted by a Pennsylvania voter threatens to not only prove the existence of voter fraud, but expose it as a direct Republican Party ploy for more Romney/Ryan votes.
The video, linked below, shows the poster attempting to select the Obama/Biden ticket on an electronic voting machine in central Pennsylvania, only to have the Romney/Ryan tab above it highlighted instead. The user, who mentions his background as a software developer in the video’s description, tried to determine if this was a screen calibration error. To test if the signals were simply swapped, he selected the Romney/Ryan tab on purpose and waited for the Obama/Biden tab to light up instead. It did not. He then tried to see if the touch pad sensor was off by half an inch, and selected the Jill Stein tab below the Obama one. As intended, doing so only highlighted the Green Party choice. No matter how the voter poked and prodded, he was unable to select the Democratic presidential ticket.
Unfortunately, his attempts at troubleshooting the voting machine happened off screen and the video shows only the original rerouted vote for Romney/Ryan. That’s enough ambiguity for any one to raise an eyebrow. But whether this is an isolated machine glitch or a plot to alter Democratic votes into Republican ones in a swing state, a larger, national conversation about electronic voting is overdue. Hundreds of comments have voiced speculations about the video on both YouTube and Reddit, but other than the overwhelming cries of “OH DEAR GOD REPORT THIS TO AN AUTHORITY,” users are engaging in some serious paper ballot nostalgia.
Voter fraud, or just voting machine malfunction?
In this case, it appears to be the latter. It is now being reported that the voting machine in question has been taken out of service.
The topic of electronic voting machines has often stirred debate: while there are efficiencies, there are also inevitable glitches that all machines–voting or otherwise–encounter.
November 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana use, is on the Nov. 6th ballot in Washington state, but its supporters are not who you’d expect.
Ironically, when state legislators introduced the initiative last summer, they anticipated much of the support to come from medical marijuana businesses and activists, but that has not been the case.
Businesses that sell medical marijuana and their customers are those that are most strongly opposed to the initiative. They say that the regulations of the drug’s DUI standard would cause users to fail days after smoking, which is not consistent with an alcohol-related DUI. (more…)
November 3, 2012 at 7:00 AM
SEATTLE — For Kyle Curtis, president of the University of Washington College Republicans, it is nearly impossible to show support for his chosen presidential candidate.
“I can’t tell you how hard it is to get a Mitt Romney sign in this state,” Curtis said.
Curtis did find a sign, but he also found confrontation. While holding the blue-and-red Mitt Romney poster on campus he got a disproving reaction from a passerby.
“He glared at us, then he took a few steps back,” Curtis said. “He was like, ‘You’re kidding me. You’re actually going to vote for Mitt Romney?’ and then I was like ‘Yes.’”