Seattle, who the heck is voting? It sure isn't all of you since around 82 percent of registered voters haven't cast a ballot yet. And, judging from these initial reports, my generation is slacking.
So I went out to three of the ballot boxes in three of the most competitive districts in this year's election. Yes, there are ballot boxes all over King County. Yes, I was only there for an hour tops. So yes, please, take any and all observations with a grain of salt.
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The only for-sure thing I can tell you is that taking photos of your ballot is the new "I Voted Sticker."
Ballard feels like its own separate colony. It's so tedious to get to and everyone there is really into being from Ballard. (In case it isn't clear, I don't go to Ballard a lot.) Ballard, Fremont, and Green Lake are all in District 6, Mike O'Brien's rapidly-changing district. O'Brien is retiring, the primary is crowded, and it's going to be a close race.
The ballot box is in front of the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library. It was 3 p.m. on a Thursday when I went there. The library was bustling, the ballot box was not. After 10 minutes of standing and milling about, I went inside and looked up a book I've been jonesing to get my hands on. It was recommended by the New Yorker but was only available at the University District and Central library branches.
I considered finally getting a library card but realized that this wasn't really what I was getting paid for at this point in time, so I took up my post again as the observer of the ballot box.
I sat facing it with my back against the library's exterior wall. I made eye contact with a suave looking man taking a call on his Bluetooth earpiece on the balcony of the apartment building across the street.
The first man I talked to at the ballot box didn't give his name, but said he voted in line with The Stranger's endorsements. That means he voted for Dan Strauss.
An older woman with white hair who worked at the library declined to comment as she was voting.
A different white woman with white hair named Julie said she voted for Heidi Wills because of Wills' stance on homelessness. "She's endorsed by moms that run with me," Julie told me. I was unclear if that meant they were moms from the same jogging group, or if they were moms who aligned politically with Julie. Or, if she meant these moms.
As I was chatting with Julie another white woman with white hair pulled up in her car, jumped out, and dropped her ballot in the box. It was a big afternoon for the white-haired demographic. As we can see by this chart:
In a rare non-Baby Boomer encounter, a man named Noah was excited to tell me that he voted for all the progressive, pro-labor candidates. However, he just moved to District 6 and didn't vote for a city councilperson. This is a logic I do not understand??? But you do you, Noah. He voted for Fred Felleman for Port Commissioner Pos. 5. He couldn't remember who he voted for Position 2. He thinks someone named Ken. (There is no one named Ken running for Port.)
The next man had yellow shorts on and a gray goatee. I asked who he voted for. "I'd tell you if I could remember," he said. "I looked at The Stranger and said, 'Yep, okay' and that's who I voted for.'" There's nothing like an informed voter base! But, really, with our voting guide you can do anything.
I asked a young-ish blond man if he was okay sharing who he voted for. "No," he said, "absolutely not. Honestly, I'm not a fan of that newspaper. It's only one side—there are other people." I asked him if he would like to share his side with me so I could portray it in my one-sided newspaper. He hopped in his Acura and drove away.
Ah, my home turf. District 4 is the old district of the recently-departed Rob Johnson's (not dead, just a sell-out). This district is a battleground between the more-conservative Chamber-of-Commerce-backed Alex Pedersen and a pack of progressive candidates splitting the vote. Of note among those progressives are Shaun Scott and Emily Myers.
I stopped by the District 4 ballot box this morning on my commute to work. My bus, the 65, has been rerouted due to the University of Washington construction so it drops me off on 15th Avenue NE as opposed to on campus. This was actually very convenient because the ballot box is next to Schmitz Hall which is sandwiched between 15th Avenue NE and University Way NE (or, The Ave).
The tone was already different here. Someone who worked in Schmitz walked by and told me he loved my writing. I blushed. What a day! The first student I talked to told me he didn't want to talk about who he voted for. Fine. Cool. I get it. The next student I talked to was Emily Myers, UW Ph.D. candidate and candidate for City Council. She was voting with her pomeranian, Panini.
Myers said she was concerned about young people voting, especially with UW on summer break. She's also concerned about the 25 to 35 age range's low turn out. "I'm like 'what's going guys?'" she said. "We're doing a lot of texts and calls to try to reach people in the media they're using."
Myers wants to see young people voting. "This election is going to decide where Seattle goes with a Green New Deal," Myers said. "And where we go with homelessness and affordability."
Next, I talked to a grad student named Rachel. She lives in Green Lake and voted for Heidi Wills. "I hadn't checked my mail in a couple of weeks and saw my ballot," Rachel said. "I put it on my table and said, 'this is something I have to do.' Then today I realized it was the 5th and I had to vote by the 6th. So." Rachel shrugged. She got her information mostly from the voter's pamphlet.
Then came Dave. An older man who was "born and raised in Seattle."
"Talk to The Stranger?" Dave laughed. "Isn't that like talking to the enemy?"
Dave wore a teal button-up shirt and had wire-rim glasses that looked like the ones my grandpa wears. He was game to talk shop even though we did not see eye-to-eye politically.
"I'm very pleased there will be a major turnover on the city council," Dave said. "I'm not a fan of second-generation council members. They carry on stupid ideas and policies."
I asked if he thought that voters were going to align with him and want to flip the council. "Well," Dave said, "I follow NextDoor. There's a fair amount of stupidity on there," he said about the neighborhood gossip app, "but something's gotta change."
His big thing is that Seattle cannot afford half the things it's talking about changing. Also, he was very proud of his son who just graduated from the Seattle Maritime Academy and is a merchant marine. Dave cast his son's ballot since he was just sent out to North Carolina to hop on a ship.
I'm not one to make assumptions but... I hope Alex Pedersen enjoys Dave's vote.
The Chamber of Commerce's Eye of Sauron is laser-focused on District 3 and its quest to beat incumbent Kshama Sawant. The Chamber has spent over $245,000 on Egan Orion's behalf. There are also several other candidates who have piqued constituents' fancy, like pot store-owner and cookie connoisseur Logan Bowers and public defender Ami Nguyen.
Full disclosure, I spent the least amount of time in District 3. I had to make it to a meeting. It was a whole thing. But, I talked to an older woman named Alice. She was wearing vividly patterned trousers and had colorful glasses on. She voted for Ami Nguyen because she knows someone who knows Ami and that person spoke highly of her.
"It was a very difficult vote for me," Alice said. "I like a lot of the things Kshama has done but her divisive tone has been bothering me."
As Alice walked away she shouted over her shoulder, "But my husband voted for Kshama! That's how we split it up!"
A woman named Betsy rolled up on a green bike with a brown basket. She also voted for Ami Nguyen.
"I'm excited about Ami," Betsy said. "She's going to keep new developers and big business accountable."
Then there was Brian, a young Microsoft worker who voted for Sawant "based on all the pamphlets" he got. Her past accomplishments resonated with his beliefs, he said. A woman with purplish hair voted briskly. I caught her as she was leaving. She said she voted for "whoever you guys told me to," in reference to The Stranger's endorsements.
Then there was Charles, a Capitol Hill resident who didn't want to tell me who he voted for. "I think I'll keep that to myself," he said.
Yet he was game to pose for a photo! Charles then chatted with me about how "the city council doesn't seem to be progressive enough on certain items or issues." According to Charles, who was very impressed with how quickly I typed on my phone without looking at my fingers (I didn't even make typos!!), "things need to be changed." He's mostly concerned about accountability.
I can't put my finger on who Charles voted for. He asked me to take a picture of him voting on his phone so he could post it online.