King County Elections Canvassing Board members study the many possible ways to spell Kshama Sawant.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • King County Elections Canvassing Board members study the many possible ways to spell Kshama Sawant.

Watch out, Frank Chopp, the socialists are coming for you!

At a King County Elections Canvassing Board meeting this afternoon, elections officials presented tallies showing write-in candidate Kshama Sawant the clear second-place winner in the 43rd Legislative District House Race, Position 2. Of the 3,903 write-in ballots in the race (12.69 percent of the total ballots cast) 3,415 voters spelled Sawant's name correctly, comfortably more than the 2,582 votes recorded for third-place Gregory Gadow, whose name appeared on the ballot alongside Chopp's. The Canvassing Board also accepted several hundred ballots with variations on Sawant's name; the final count will be certified tomorrow.

What explains Sawant's remarkable write-in support (she out-polled not just Gadow, but the 2,846 votes she received opposing Rep. Jamie Pedersen in Position 1, a race for which she was actually on the ballot), not to mention the miraculous spelling proficiency of write-in voters? Well, this might have had something to do with it.

As the second-place winner in both 43rd LD House races, Sawant, the Socialist Alternative party candidate, gets to choose which race she will run in, and Sawant told us earlier today that she and her party have already voted to oppose Chopp.

The only question remaining is whether she will be permitted to list a party preference on the ballot. WAC 434-262-160 appears to indicate no, and that is what King County Elections says it is going by. But considering Sawant did express a party preference, if in a different race, and the fact that Secretary of State Sam Reed already proclaims broad discretion to interpret elections law, Reed would appear to be free to accommodate Sawant's request to express a preference. This is, after all, a voter intent state. It seems reasonable to extend that to candidate intent as well.