King County Vote Center Voting Desks
Physically-distanced desks for voters to fill out their ballots are seen at the CenturyLink Field Event Center, October 31 2020

Mil­lions of vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon — the eas­i­est states to vote in, accord­ing to a recent nation­al study — will soon be receiv­ing their gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lots in the mail cour­tesy of the Unit­ed States Postal Service.

Elec­tion offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton’s thir­ty-nine coun­ties and Ore­gon’s thir­ty-six coun­ties have pre­pared bal­lots for over 7.7 mil­lion eli­gi­ble vot­ers to cast. Wash­ing­ton had 4,760,301 vot­ers on the rolls as of Octo­ber 1st, while Ore­gon had 2,976,195 vot­ers on the rolls as of Octo­ber 5th.

Once filled out, bal­lots can be returned to either a drop box or a post office. If a bal­lot is post­marked as of Elec­tion Day, it will count in either state.

The Pacif­ic North­west­’s oth­er state, Ida­ho, does not have uni­ver­sal vote-at-home, but Ida­hoans are allowed to cast absen­tee bal­lots. “If you plan to vote using an absen­tee bal­lot, your appli­ca­tion must be received by 5:00 PM eleven days pri­or to the desired elec­tion,” the Ida­ho Sec­re­tary of State advises.

King Coun­ty, the region’s largest coun­ty by pop­u­la­tion, announced this week the avail­abil­i­ty of a new tool vot­ers can use to track their bal­lots: text and email alerts. “Vot­ers can now opt in to receive text or email noti­fi­ca­tions as their bal­lot is processed, mak­ing it even eas­i­er to know that their vote count­ed,” King Coun­ty Elec­tions explains. “Bal­lot alerts will also let vot­ers know if there is an issue with their sig­na­ture that they need to resolve before their vote can be counted.”

“Alerts are avail­able in Eng­lish, Chi­nese, Kore­an, Span­ish, and Vietnamese.”

This is very wel­come news and will hope­ful­ly be embraced by oth­er jurisdictions.

“This team at Elec­tions is made up of ded­i­cat­ed pro­fes­sion­als who go above and beyond to not only meet the let­ter of the law, but to go the extra mile for our vot­ers,” said Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise in a statement.

“We are your neigh­bors, friends, rel­a­tives. We are exten­sive­ly trained and deeply expe­ri­enced in run­ning vote-by-mail elec­tions. We are ready for this midterm elec­tion and ready for our vot­ers to make their voic­es heard.”

“King Coun­ty Elec­tions is one of the best in the busi­ness at ensur­ing the secu­ri­ty of every vote, from the moment you get your bal­lot in the mail or a drop box, to the day it’s received and processed,” said King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “Thanks to Direc­tor Wise and her team, your vote and our elec­tions are secure. Our democ­ra­cy is only as strong as our voic­es in it – so let’s make sure every voice in King Coun­ty is heard in November.”

Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon both have U.S. Sen­ate races this year and mul­ti­ple very com­pet­i­tive House races. Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd and 8th Dis­tricts and Ore­gon’s 5th and 6th Dis­tricts all look very close and could be won by either major party.

There are oth­er statewide races, too. Wash­ing­ton has a spe­cial elec­tion for Sec­re­tary of State this year due to the res­ig­na­tion of Kim Wyman, while Ore­gon and Ida­ho have guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tions. Ida­ho will also be elect­ing a new Attor­ney Gen­er­al fol­low­ing the ouster of Lawrence Wasden.

A num­ber of statewide bal­lot mea­sures are on the bal­lot this year in Ore­gon. NPI is urg­ing a yes vote on each of the con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments and initiatives:

  • Mea­sure 111 (mak­ing health­care a right): Yes
  • Mea­sure 112 (end­ing mod­ern day slav­ery): Yes
  • Mea­sure 113 (end right wing walk­outs): Yes
  • Mea­sure 114 (gun safe­ty): Yes

In Wash­ing­ton State, there are no ini­tia­tives, ref­er­en­da, or con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments… just pro­pa­gan­da items draft­ed by Tim Eyman that take the form of “advi­so­ry votes.” We urge every­one to vote “Main­tained” on these items and take heart that we are com­mit­ted to get­ting them repealed with our leg­isla­tive cham­pi­ons, includ­ing Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er and Sen­a­tor Sam Hunt.

At the local lev­el, there are sev­er­al impor­tant mea­sures on this year’s bal­lot, includ­ing one con­ceived here at NPI: King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1. This pro­posed change to the coun­ty’s plan of gov­ern­ment, which has no orga­nized oppo­si­tion, would move elec­tions for twelve posi­tions cur­rent­ly elect­ed in odd years to even years, when turnout is much high­er and more diverse.

The cam­paign to pass the amend­ment has been smooth and reward­ing, and we’re over­joyed that so many peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions have respond­ed pos­i­tive­ly to this oppor­tu­ni­ty to sim­pli­fy our elec­tions and strength­en our democracy.

We have rec­om­men­da­tions on many addi­tion­al local bal­lot mea­sures pub­lished on our Advo­ca­cy page for easy ref­er­ence. Here’s a com­plete list of our Wash­ing­ton State bal­lot mea­sure endorse­ments, plus guid­ance for Eyman’s garbage:

  • Statewide — Tim Eyman’s pro­pa­gan­da items 
  • King Coun­ty
    • Char­ter Amend­ment 1 (Even-Year Elec­tions): Vote Yes
    • Propo­si­tion 1 (Con­ser­va­tion Futures Levy): Vote Yes
  • Clark Coun­ty
    • Char­ter Amend­ment 10 (ranked choice vot­ing): Vote Yes
  • San Juan County
    • Char­ter Amend­ment Propo­si­tion 3 (ranked choice vot­ing): Vote Yes
  • Seat­tle
  • Oth­er jurisdictions
    • Belle­vue Propo­si­tion 1 (parks levy): Vote Yes
    • Clyde Hill Propo­si­tion 1 (aban­don­ing strong may­or sys­tem): Vote No
    • Mer­cer Island Propo­si­tion 1 (parks levy): Vote Yes
    • Red­mond Propo­si­tion 1 (pub­lic safe­ty levy): Vote Yes
    • Shore­line Propo­si­tion 1 (pub­lic safe­ty levy): Vote Yes
    • Tuk­wila Ini­tia­tive 1 (raise the min­i­mum wage): Vote Yes
    • High­line Schools Propo­si­tion 1 (school bonds): Vote Yes
    • Ren­ton Schools Propo­si­tion 1 (school bonds): Vote Yes

NPI does not offer guid­ance in can­di­date elec­tions because we do not endorse can­di­dates or engage in elec­tion­eer­ing for or against any can­di­date. How­ev­er, we urge you to vote for each of the offices on your bal­lot. The results of these elec­tions will deter­mine who rep­re­sents you at every lev­el of gov­ern­ment. Ensure that your voice is heard by mak­ing plan to vote by Novem­ber 8th, 2022 at 8 PM!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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