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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Washington

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November 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Voter Turnout Approaches 80 Percent in Washington State

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. Washington State ballot drop box in the 2012 election….


Comments | More in State | Topics: Election 2012, Voter Turnout, Washington

September 19, 2012 at 7:00 AM

In search of American evangelicalism and politics

Washington, D.C. — We walked in silence in the mid-morning hush that hovered over the National Mall. It was Sunday, three days ago, and I was in town covering the Values Voter Summit, a conservative gathering that mixes faith, politics, and policy. A friend and I were on our way to church service at Capitol Hill Baptist.

It’s a site frequented by politicos, civil servants and students, heirs of a robust intellectual tradition within Christianity. I’ve been wanting to hear the pastor, Mark Dever, since I heard him talk at the University of Cambridge a few years ago.

Walking past the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court on the way to church is a fascinating experience. It’s here that our nation’s laws get made, and fought over.

Part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s granite facade was being renovated. From Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. (Will Mari / UW Election Eye)

And now we found ourselves at an intersection lined with sleepy trees and charming brownstones.

A woman approached us.

“Are you two here for the ‘weekender’?” she asked.

“The what?,” we wondered aloud, thinking she had meant to inquire if we were in town for the weekend, “sure.”

“Then follow me,” she said, “I’m going to CHB.”

On the way, we figured out what she had meant. The “Weekender” was a quarterly gathering of ministers of American and international ministers.

She had thought we were pastors. I suppose wearing a blazer and bearing Bibles and notepads might have encouraged that perception. My press badge was tucked away, in more than one sense.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: Capital Hill Baptist Church, Christians, D.C.

September 9, 2012 at 7:15 AM

Democratic National Convention: The view from press row

UW Election Eye spent five days on the ground covering Democrats at their national gathering. Here are some reflections and photographs. CHARLOTTE — The Democratic National Convention was supposed to end in President Barack Obama’s address to a live audience of 70,000 at Bank of America Stadium. It did not. A last minute change shifted…


Comments | More in National | Topics: America Ferrera, Barack Obama, Charlotte

June 29, 2012 at 7:05 AM

A high school student climbs the local political rungs

Daniel Warwick is pure politics and persuasion, and he has the necessary skill: he has a handshake to remember.

The squeeze of his hand is fine, but it’s the character of his stare and the calmness of his brow that seal the deal. It’s a handshake moment that makes you wonder if you met his expectations, and recount how many times you pumped to make sure you at least are on his level.

For him, politics and persuasion are fun, challenging, rewarding and the best way to spend his high school years. Warwick is 18 years old, you see, and has already participated in more public service than most of us will in a lifetime.

He’s a suburban kid who attends Interlake High School in Bellevue. It’s hard to imagine him doing anything bad in his community, but for many it’s harder to imagine him doing all the good that he has tried to do. That is the hurdle he seeks to overcome. Warwick is climbing the mountain of local politics that is dominated by an older generation.


Comments | More in Local | Topics: Bellevue, Democrats, Election 2012

June 13, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Reverend Oliver White: Minnesota’s reluctant crusader on same-sex marriage

Reverend Oliver White photographed on May 31, 2012. (Photo by A. V. Crofts/ UW Election Eye)

Reverend Oliver White photographed on May 31, 2012. Rev. White has lost members of his congregation due to his beliefs on homosexuality and gay marriage and is facing a daunting debt on the loan of his church building. "I am not a crusader," says White, "But I have become a lightning rod inadvertently."(Photo by A.V. Crofts/ UW Election Eye)

Minnesotans will vote in November on whether to amend their state constitution to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman  and Minnesota Reverend Oliver White has taken a controversial stand against it. With the announcement yesterday that Washington State’s Referendum 74, which seeks to overturn the measure legalizing same-sex marriage in the state,  was approved for ballot, the national debate around same-sex marriage is certain to play out in November in our own backyard.

St. Paul, Minn. — Reverend Oliver White is a tall man.

As he folds himself into the restaurant booth for our interview, White maneuvers with the skill of someone used to fitting his frame into tight spaces.

These days, Reverend White is used to occupying tight spaces.


Comments | More in National | Topics: marriage equality, Minnesota, Referendum 74

May 22, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Wrap your head around this: Marijuana laws in Washington and Oregon

Matt Lewis collecting petitions at the Saturday market in Portland on May 13, 2012.(Photo by A.V. Crofts/UW Election Eye)

Washington and Oregon both legalized medical marijuana in 1998. Since then, there’s been amendments, initiatives, petitions, and proposals. Here’s a breakdown of the laws in our neighboring states, and a look at what lessons Washington can learn from Oregon as we consider legalization.

PORTLAND — During our second day in Portland, with temperatures nearing 90 degrees making it feel more like July than May, the UWEE team found a man collecting signatures at the Saturday Market. He was advocating for two initiatives that would make the Oregon marijuana law more lenient. We had seen similar efforts all over town.

Marijuana legalization will also be one of the hot-button issue in Washington this election season: Initiative-502 will be on your ballot in November.

According to New Approach Washington, a group supporting the ballot initiative, I-502 “would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana and marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.”

Phew — that’s a mouthful. In simpler terms, I-502 would legalize marijuana in Washington.

Well, sort of. 


Comments | More in State | Topics: Ballot, I-502, marijuana legalization

May 17, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Gubernatorial candidates, especially Rob McKenna, spending campaign dollars out of state

Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna have spent almost the same amount so far on their campaigns for governor. But differences in the way they spend just might give us a clue as to who will win in November, and how they’ll run our state.

(Graphic by Betsy Hauenstein/UW Election Eye)

Politics is a money game.  The candidate with the most cash usually wins, but in Washington state’s gubernatorial race, the two main candidates are almost neck and neck in terms of fundraising. There’s no sign that this tight race will let up before November, so what matters most is how they choose to spend that money.

Thanks to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), we get an idea of where the money is going.

The graphics above categorize all of the expenses listed on the PDC website for the Rob McKenna (R) and Jay Inslee (D) campaigns. The more than 1,000 expense entries for each campaign provide a glimpse into each candidate’s campaign approach.

The numbers tell two stories: one about new technologies, one about an old truism.


Comments | More in State | Topics: advertising, campaign funds, Election 2012

May 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Access and education are key to young voter engagement

How do you capture that elusive “youth vote”? In the first presidential election since Barack Obama’s campaign showed it was possible to effectively leverage young voter engagement, the question still remains of how to keep 18-29 year olds engaged in the political process.

(Graphic by Corey Murata/UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — “Politics,” Alex Miller says, “is inherently uncool.”

As we sit in the urban loft headquarters of the Washington Bus, a youth-driven political advocacy organization, it sure seems like they’ve found something cool about the creaky old voting process. Maybe it’s the “Vote Bot” Robot or the foosball table.

But the Bus’s Communications Director is serious.

“It just can’t be cool,” he reiterates. “And that’s fine — it’s still super valuable. What you can do is find things that are cool and meaningful to young people, and you can figure out what’s political about them.”

The question that seems to arise every presidential election year — how do you get out the youth vote? — is once again in the local and national conversation in 2012. While the 2008 Presidential season saw a surge in youth participation as a result of the Obama campaign’s outreach and leverage of social media to reach younger voters, a recent poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that only 49% of Americans age 18-29 will “definitely” vote in November. Only 22% of U.S. college students self-identify as politically active.

The majority of young voters are like Curtis Rusch, a freshman at the University of Washington. He registered to vote soon after his 18th birthday, eager for the opportunity to vote in the 2012 presidential election. But off-year elections and smaller races or initiatives are not on his radar, or that of his friends.

“I just feel like it doesn’t make that much of a difference,” he says. “Some of those issues seem really small to us since they’re not affecting us every day, so it doesn’t pique our interest as much.”

Alan Charnley, a 26-year-old from the 32nd district, sees that tension often in the students at Shoreline Community College that he approaches, clipboard in hand, to strike up conversation — and eventually ask them if they’re registered to vote.

The one-time summer camp counselor admits he’ll Facebook sneak-attack his former campers when they turn 18: “I’ll write, ‘Congratulations, Happy Birthday! Now go register to vote’.”

Here in Washington State, 18-24 year olds made up 12.64% of the population in 2010, but made up only 9% of total registered voters (see graphic).

So what is the trick to capturing that elusive youth vote?


Comments | More in State | Topics: "Washington Bus", Washington, Young voters

May 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Farming families: The forgotten half of Washington

Combines unload wheat on the Ryan Brother's farm outside of Pullman, Wash. (Photo by Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

Combines unload wheat on the Ryan Brother's farm outside of Pullman, Wash. (Photo by Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

Agriculture is an important industry for the state of Washington, but residents on the west side of the state and in other urban areas don’t always understand its role.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Residents of Washington often refer to the divide between the western and eastern sides of the state as more than just geographic. The Cascade Mountains create a topographic separation, but it goes deeper: rural vs. urban, agriculture vs. industry, conservative vs. liberal.

It’s in Whitman County, in the southeastern corner of the state, where my part of this story starts.  Both of my parents grew up in Pullman, their fathers professors at Washington State University.  My mom’s sister married a farmer, so I spent part of my summers growing up riding horses, combines, and farm trucks with my cousins.


Comments | More in State | Topics: agriculture, Child Labor Law, Commissioner of Public Lands

May 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

“Why Isn’t Every Year the Year of the Woman?”

While Washington State is often highlighted for its female governor and two female senators, the focus has shifted to increase women representation in the statehouse.

Washington is often championed for its female leadership with two female senators and a female governor. Maria Cantwell, Christine Gregoire, and Patty Murray pictured here in October 2009. (Photo courtesy of Patty Murray's Facebook page)

SEATTLE — The 1992 election was dubbed the “Year of the Woman,” when Anita Hill’s treatment while testifying in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, galvanized a movement. The all-male committee highlighted the dominance of men in the Senate, and women responded — that year, 24 new women were elected into the House of Representatives and five to the Senate, including Washington’s Patty Murray.

That uptick in female elected officials also made its way into the statehouse. In Washington, after the 1992 election, women represented 40% of the state legislature — more than any other state.

With that history in mind, and an outgoing female governor and two female senators, you’d think Washington State would be the poster child for states that represent women. But if you peek behind the curtain, you see that female representation in the state legislature has been slowly eroding since its apex in the early 1990s. Today, it stands at 32%.


Comments | More in State | Topics: Christine Gregoire, Gender, Maria Cantwell

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