With only one more day to vote to retain or recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, wealthy neighborhoods continue to dominate ballot returns. At the same time, conservative media and right-wing activists are scraping the bottom of their barrels for more shit to throw at Sawant's campaign.
According to the latest statistics from the County, with more than 38% turnout so far, the landed gentry along Lake Washington have returned ballots in higher concentrations than the voters in District 3's denser core. King County Elections estimates a 50% turnout by the time the polls close. If that guess is correct, and if neighborhood trends from recent elections hold, then—absent a big push from renters over the next 24 hours—the strategy of abusing the recall process to remove politicians who pose a mild threat to the bottom lines of real estate tycoons and developers will likely prevail.
Though last-minute voters lean progressive in Seattle, the rich returned a whole lotta ballots last week:
That said, last week millennials returned ballots in slightly higher numbers compared to Boomers, which suggests that the Kshama Solidarity GOTV campaigning may be working:
But, at this point, retirement-age voters who hold Sawant single-handedly responsible for society's ills still speak with the loudest voice in this election, which suggests that nothing riles up a bunch of wealthy voters more than politicians who rile up people on behalf of the poor.
The big turnout in the ritzy neighborhoods makes plenty of sense given that the conservative forces aligned against Sawant have been keeping blood pressures dangerously high lately.
On the more authoritarian end of the spectrum, in an editorial on Friday the Seattle Times ripped off its mask and called for the Legislature to make it harder for people to vote. As Matt mentioned in this morning's Slog AM, the mostly out-of-town writers gasped at the Kshama Solidarity campaign for setting up tents on the sidewalk with printers that could run off replacement ballots. "These 'grassroots voting stations' exist beyond reach of Washington’s prohibition on electioneering at government voting centers," the board wrote in an effort to describe a perfectly legal practice as if it were somehow illegal.
According to a spokesperson at the elections department, campaigns have used these pop-up ballot printing stations in the past, including during November's general election. They've received questions about them in the past, but they've gotten a lot more during this election for some reason. Weird!
King County enacted this ballot replacement system back in 2010 at the behest of the federal MOVE Act, which required states to provide online access to overseas and military service voters. The program is also "really important" for the visually impaired, who like to use screen readers to mark and print their ballots confidentially. And since "it's not always feasible for folks to get to a voting center," the program also prevents the state from disenfranchising people who lose their ballots in the avalanche of mail that stuffs boxes around election time.
Though the Seattle Times Editorial Board implies some kind of corruption from this "hands-on activism," the election department spokesperson expressed no concern about the practice and added that all security measures were still in place. Voters who print their ballots must still sign the declaration on the envelope, which will make its way to the "alternative format team" that verifies proper registration and signatures on nonstandard ballots.
Though I realize that the board only meant to publish a dumb piece of alarmism, it's worth thinking about the substance of their electioneering accusation for at least a little longer than they did.
The law exists to prevent campaigns from imitating official vote centers, from impersonating election officials, and from intimidating voters while they return ballots at official locations. That's all very good! We don't want a bunch of assholes trying to scare people away from voting locations, nor do we want operatives dressing up as officials, stealing ballots from opponents, and then dumping them in the garbage or something.
With all that in mind, the Seattle Times Editorial Board should be congratulating the Kshama Solidarity volunteers for decking out their tents with so many "anti-recall leaflets and posters," which helpfully serves to distinguish a campaign tent from an appropriately boring King County voting center. Moreover, these pop-up tents aren't substantively different from a campaign traveling door-to-door and reminding people that they can print off lost ballots in their own homes. Sawant's campaign is bringing the printer to the people — no wonder the board hates it.
Finally, as the elections department spokesperson noted, the County has sanctioned this process for over a decade, and they hadn't heard that much about it until Sawant started doing it. Demanding that the Legislature pass a law to make it harder to vote just to tamp down on nonexistent fraud is the very definition of calling for voter suppression. They feel comfortable saying some bullshit like this because Sawant is the one doing it, which leads me to my next point.
Check out this jock shit across from the Korean fried chicken place on Harvard and Pine:
It should go without saying that Sawant did not push the Sonics out of Seattle. The blame for that falls squarely on the shoulders of one of her constituents: The billionaire person of beans himself, Howard Shultz. But these posters do participate in the age-old tradition of blaming Sawant for literally any bad thing that happens in the city. The Recall Campaign, for instance, has blamed Sawant for "violence" and for preventing the Council from "getting things done." In reality, inaction in city government mostly derives from friction between a corporate mayor and a progressive council, which is inflamed by big businesses refusing time and again to pay their fair share. But those facts don't stop the Recall Campaign from blaming the city's problems on one of the nine council members.
And with its sideways accusation of fraud, the Seattle Times Editorial Board also clearly aims to perpetuate the baby-brained argument about Sawant being no different from Donald Trump. Of course, in reality, the Recall Sawant campaign boasts nearly 100 Trump donors and over 300 Republican donors. And the Trumpian chuds who shake the consciences of so many good liberals with water views have reportedly been on the ground in D3 doing work that benefits the recall campaign. According to a District 3 resident unaffiliated with either campaign, on Saturday at 12:30 am the driver of this big red van parked around Summit and E Republican and ripped Kshama Solidarity signs from utility poles.
When there's only one thing on a ballot, and when that ballot comes during an election that favors homeowners who don't move around as much as renters, the conservative forces in the city can concentrate on their object of hatred and motivate their voters with this cascade of fear-mongering, bad faith bullshit. If you want to stop them, you have until 8 pm on Tuesday to vote no on the recall via snail mail or drop box. At this point you shouldn't trust the mail to postmark your ballot in time for elections to count it, so just slip it in a drop box. If you're not registered but live in the district, you can register and vote at a King County voting center.