Last updated at 9 PM
Welcome to the Stranger Election Control Board's first-ever yuletide election night party coverage live blog, brought to you by the developers, real estate moguls, and Trump donors who dropped a festive one million dollars to boot Kshama Sawant from office. That's right, everybody. One million dollars to remove one of nine Seattle City Council Members.
Though the SECB had originally planned to use the downtime we expect around the holidays to transform the office into an abortion pill factory, the disingenuous pearl-clutchers that these rich assholes paid to run the recall campaign for the last year-and-a-half dragged their feet on the signature submissions, and so here we are!! 🎉
Before we say anything else, civic duty compels us to remind all residents of District 3 — which includes Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Madison Park, Madrona, Leschi, Little Saigon, and parts of surrounding neighborhoods — that there is still time to vote NO on the recall!! If you have your ballot, then stop reading this and stick it in a drop box by 8 pm, then get back here. Registered but don't have your ballot? Print it out and put it in a drop box by 8 pm. Not registered? Run to the voting center in the west room of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. It's open until — you guessed it — 8 pm.
Normally this is the part of the introduction when we say that the SECB plans to toke up and fan out across the city to cover all the election night parties, but this time only the Kshama Solidarity campaign came through with the invite. The Recall Sawant campaign refused to respond to our requests for party directions, so we don't even know for sure if they're having one. In the face of these unprecedented circumstances, we've sent one of our members out with instructions to search every gentrified normie joint in the district. We'll report back if they find something or get locked into a conversation about NFTs.
In any event!! We'll post live updates on the one party we're definitely attending here, as well as some breezy snap judgments about the results of the first ballot drop, which will come around 8 pm tonight. As of this very moment, about 32,600 of 75,000 D3 voters have returned their ballots, which puts turnout at 42%. The King County Elections department still projects a 50% turnout, and a spokesperson said they plan to drop about 32,500 ballots tonight. That drop will include basically everything submitted up until this afternoon. If those predictions hold, then tonight's drop should be pretty decisive, and that decisiveness probably won't be so good for Sawant.
However!! Progressive voters tend to stuff ballot boxes at the very last minute, so a massive final wave of support could help save Sawant. If overall turnout surges to 59% or something wild, then the elections department spokesperson says we won't see another substantial ballot drop until Thursday.
Sawant’s squad greeted believers at the entrance of Capitol Hill’s Chop Suey with a vax card check, temperature read, hand stamp, and Google forum sign-in. Quite the process. Chop Suey was characteristically homey with its LED lighting and sticky floors. Sawant’s campaign left no wall uncovered with her trademark red signage.
Jordan from Sawant’s campaign, a friendly volunteer who approached the Stranger Election Control Board as we stewed in a corner, wondering if the other half of our party made it into the underground Recall Sawant Party, said that he remained cautious about claiming their GOTV efforts will be enough to overcome the Recall’s voter suppression tactics. He said he believed that if anything could prevail, it would be the Kshama Solidarity Campaign.
In line for the bar, we chatted up two girls who somehow stumbled past security without knowing tonight was an election party. At first, we thought “the biggest GOTV effort the city has ever seen” had dropped the ball, but they were just tourists from Tennessee. When we explained what happened, they laughed and left. They were expecting a drag show and not our brief lesson on Seattle’s lone socialist council member.
We asked one Sawant campaigner what a socialist would order at a bar. He told us “the cheapest beer on tap,” which sounded within our budget. That happened to be a Coors Light. Fortunately, that was out. We asked for "literally anything else," which ironically is what the enemy team wants to accomplish with this vote.
Would you like to know what’s happening at the Recall Sawant party? Well TOO BAD, you CAN’T, because it’s INVITE ONLY and you’re NOT on the LIST.
Earlier this evening we stopped by the recall campaign’s HQ at The Broadway Building, a “luxury apartment” complex across from Seattle Central College. “Are you a resident?” asked a guy in a suit jacket, opening the door for us. We identified ourselves as reporters from The Stranger — our first mistake! — which got us as far as a check-in table in the lobby.
A youthful staffer (well, comparatively youthful) scanned through a guest list and couldn’t find us, so he called Henry — that’s campaign manager Henry Bridger, AKA Seattle’s Leather Boy 2019 — to see if we could proceed.
A few awkward “uh huh”s ensued while we stood awkwardly under a chandelier, taking in the scene. As we waited, a chuckling man pushed a Lime scooter laden down with three bags of ice through the lobby into an elevator. (So they’ve either got cold drinks, or they’re harvesting kidneys.) Also present: A mustached man we recognized as a campaigner for Compassion Seattle.
Eventually, the younger staffer returned to inform us that we were not on the approved press list, and “we’re trying to keep this to just people we know.” He began to add, “I’m sure you could wait here until —” before the older one in the jacket cut him off.
“No, you’ll have to go outside,” Jacket said, and that was that. Out into the rain we went.
Oh well! Guess we’ll have to try to catch up with Henry some other time, maybe at one of his nude hikes.
The results are in, and right now the Recall is leading 53 to 47, with 2,000 votes separating the two. Not looking obviously good for Sawant, but without knowing how many votes people turned in tonight, it's hard to say anything definitive. According to King County Elections stats, current turnout as of 6 pm was 34,753. The elections department counted 32,129 votes in this drop. King County elections said the current count doesn't include ballots returned after noon or 1 pm today. Progressive voters vote late, but Sawant would need a huge post-lunch surge to help her stay in office. No real mandate either way: if the Recall pulls this off, we wonder if the right will continue abusing the recall system to pick off progressive opponents; if Sawant pulls this off, then, ha. In Sawant's 2019 race, she was down 8% after the first ballot drop. Tonight, some Sawant campaign folks continued to predict a win of 52% when all votes are counted.
At Chop Suey, the crowded bar took a moment to quiet down and realize what happened. Some nodded and noted, “It’s winnable.” Others hugged as if the race was won. Overall, the crowd was underwhelmed. The music kept playing. Conversation continued. One volunteer called the initial drop “promising"—After all, Sawant historically surmounts election night deficits, although that's been during regular elections with higher turnouts. Near the Chop Suey bar, someone said, “This is as good as it gets for those assholes," regarding the Recall's total.
Smiling, Sawant took to the Chop Suey stage to thunderous applause. The crowd lost their actual shit, the kind of clapping that made the SECB cup our ears, and we've been to the freaky noise concerts Stranger music contributor Dave Segal is always recommending.
All in all, Sawant gave an address that was typical for the council member:
Next drop will happen tomorrow at 4 pm. Unless the post-noon haul today was extremely small, then we likely won't really know the outcome of the election until Thursday!
— Rich Smith (@richsssmith) December 8, 2021
We'd tell you what Henry said but we'll have to wait for the post-election night interview with Dori Monson ¯\_(ツ)_/¯