The Yes for Early Success campaign
This afternoon, a King County judge ruled in a court case with major implications for city voters this fall, one we reported on in this week's paper. A campaign run mainly by unions who represent teachers and child care workers, called Yes for Early Success, had claimed that the city council unfairly set up a union initiative on preschool and child-care to compete on the ballot against the city's pilot program for public pre-K.

The unions argued at least two points: One, that the city charter says two similar measures should still be voted on separately and then, if both pass, the matter should be settled in court. And two, they say their measure is very different from the city's, it's not meant to replace the city program, and that the two should be separated so voters can vote yes on both, which they feel would not present a conflict.

The judge disagreed. Judge Helen Halpert's decision (read it for yourself here) says state law on the matter, which instructs that they be presented to voters as an either-or choice, trumps city law. Additionally, she ruled that the measures do, in fact, "address the same subject," though she noted that "there are some significant differences."

"We're really pleased with Judge Halpert's decision today," says Sandeep Kaushik, spokesman for the campaign supporting the city's pre-K measure, which would enact the beginnings of a sliding scale universal pre-K program. "We've been confident all along that the city was on very strong legal ground in putting these measures on the ballot in opposition to each other." He calls the ruling "a win for the city... [and] a win for Seattle voters," calling the two measures "fundamentally incompatible."

The Yes for Early Success campaign, meanwhile, says they're considering an appeal, though the judge notes that any such legal matters must be resolved before September 5, when general election ballots are sent to the printer.

Their campaign released a statement saying this decision "allow[s] City Hall to deny voters their constitutional rights to a clean and fair vote on both I-107, the citizen initiative to improve child care throughout Seattle, and the City Council's preschool tax levy."

The final ballot language for each measure hasn't been decided upon yet, since Yes for Early Success has contested the ballot language produced by the city; Judge Halpert says the dispute will need to be resolved by the legal counsel for the two parties or, if that can't be achieved, through further court ruling.

But we do know what question voters will be asked after reading language describing each measure. Your ballots will read like this:

1. Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

2. Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

[ ] Proposition 1A
[ ] Proposition 1B

That seems like it's gonna be a big pain in the ass to explain on a campaign sign, a flyer, or a T-shirt. Um, "Vote Yes on Question 1 of City Propositions 1A and 1B! And then also vote 'Proposition 1B' on Question 2 where it— GOOD LORD THIS IS CONFUSING WHYYYYYYY..." Good luck to both sides on that matter.