A proposed charter amendment conceived here at the Northwest Progressive Institute that would move elections for twelve King County offices from odd to even-numbered years remains popular with voters and is destined for passage later this month, NPI’s latest poll of the King County electorate has found.
In the aggregate, 50% of voters surveyed this week by Change Research for NPI said they had already voted for King County Charter Amendment 1 or were planning to, while 21% said they had already voted against the amendment or were planning to. 2% said they didn’t vote on the amendment, 11% did not remember how they voted on it, and 16% were not sure how they would vote.
Among voters who had already returned ballots, the amendment has a lead of nearly three-to-one. 58% of those voters said they voted yes, while 21% said they voted no. 4% did not vote on the amendment and 17% did not recall.
Among voters who had not voted, 37% said they were definitely or probably voting yes, while 20% said they were probably or definitely voting no.
42% said they were not sure.
Charter Amendment 1, which was forwarded by the King County Council to voters for consideration back in the summer, is simple. It changes the timing of elections for twelve county positions currently elected in odd years to even-numbered years, which will increase and diversify voter turnout in elections for those offices. The positions affected by the amendment are:
- King County Executive: The county’s highest profile job, with immense appointing and administrative authority.
- King County Assessor: Independently elected official who heads the department responsible for assessing the value of property in the county.
- King County Elections Director: Independently elected executive official responsible for the administration of the county’s elections.
- King County Council (9 positions): Nine-member body responsible for making laws (usually styled as ordinances) for the county.
The position of King County Prosecuting Attorney and the county’s Superior Court judgeships (when contested) are already regularly elected in even years. The adoption of Charter Amendment 1 will put King County on the path to electing all of its positions in higher turnout midterm and presidential cycles by the end of the decade. The switchover will be implemented by temporarily electing each of the aforementioned positions to three year terms in 2023 and 2025.
In 2026, the positions of King County Assessor, King County Elections Director, and King County Council (Districts 2, 4, 6, 8) will appear on an even-year ballot for the first time. Then, in 2028, the position of Executive will appear on an even-year ballot for the first time along with five more King County Council positions (Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9). Data suggest turnout in these elections could as much as double just from being put on an even-year ballot.
The electorates choosing these officials will be also be much more diverse following the switch, with far more young voters, voters of color, working class voters, and renters participating in the selection of King County’s future leaders.
In addition to NPI, King County Charter Amendment 1 is endorsed by The Seattle Times, The Stranger, The Urbanist, and a growing coalition of organizations that believe in inclusive elections and a stronger democracy.
Remarkably and happily, the amendment has no organized opposition. No one came forward to write a statement for the voter’s pamphlet or appear in the video voters guide offered by the Seattle Channel and King County TV.
Here’s the questions we asked and the answers we received:
QUESTION: This year, voters are considering King County Charter Amendment 1, concerning the timing of elections for twelve county elected positions. The ballot title is as follows: Shall the King County Charter be amended to move elections for the county offices of executive, assessor, director of elections and councilmembers from odd-numbered to even-numbered years? How did you vote on this charter amendment?
Respondents who told us that they had already voted were shown this question.
- Yes: 58%
- No: 21%
- Did not vote on this: 4%
- Don’t recall: 17%
Haven’t yet voted
QUESTION: This year, voters are considering King County Charter Amendment 1, concerning the timing of elections for twelve county elected positions. The ballot title is as follows: Shall the King County Charter be amended to move elections for the county offices of executive, assessor, director of elections and councilmembers from odd-numbered to even-numbered years? How are you voting on this charter amendment?
Respondents who told us that they had not yet voted were shown this question.
- Yes: 37%
- Definitely yes: 17%
- Probably yes: 20%
- No: 20%
- Probably no: 8%
- Definitely no: 12%
- Not sure: 42%
COMBINED ANSWERS (AGGREGATE), BOTH QUESTIONS:
- Yes: 50%
- No: 21%
- Did not vote on this: 2%
- Don’t recall: 11%
- Not sure: 16%
Our survey of 740 likely 2022 King County general election voters was in the field from Friday, October 28th until today, Thursday, November 3rd.
The poll was conducted entirely online for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research and has a modeled margin of error of 4.0%.
I serve as one of the officers for the Yes on King County Charter Amendment 1 campaign, which is urging voters in King County to pass the amendment.
The idea for Charter Amendment 1 originated at King County Councilmember Sarah Perry’s election night party a year ago. Our team, which tracks voter turnout closely, had noticed that Washington State was once again on track to fall well short of majority participation and likely set another shoddy turnout record.
I mentioned this to King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, musing that it sure would be great if we were electing our important county positions in years when most voters actually return a ballot… like 2020 or 2022.
NPI Legislative Director Kathy Sakahara and I formally pitched the idea to Balducci in the spring. After studying turnout data, Chair Balducci enthusiastically took up the cause and introduced the amendment in the King County Council.
Representatives of many organizations that work on voting rights and voting justice offered their support during a series of public hearings before the Council’s Committee of the Whole, and on June 28th, the Council voted 7–2 to put the amendment on the ballot for voters to consider.
Our summertime survey found great enthusiasm for the amendment, confirming earlier research showing broad support for even-year elections.
55% of the voters Change Research surveyed for us in July-August 2022 indicated they’d vote yes for the amendment after seeing just the ballot title and no other information. After hearing a balanced set of arguments for and against, support increased into the sixties, which was extremely heartening.
Electing county positions in even years is actually the norm in Washington State. Only three counties deviate from it: King, Snohomish, and Whatcom. Should this amendment pass, King County will no longer be one of them after 2025.
Amendment 1 was drafted to ensure that the county’s top job of Executive would move to a presidential cycle when turnout is consistently at its highest. In 2028, King County could be electing an Executive at the same time that we vote for President of the United States and Governor, just like Pierce County already does.
We have a campaign website that answers many frequently asked questions about the amendment and addresses concerns we sometimes hear. If you’re looking for more information about the proposal, I strongly recommend checking out that resource. Ballots are due back by November 8th and 8 PM. We urge you to join us in voting Yes on Charter Amendment 1 if you are a King County voter!