NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

The City of Seattle will join King County in suing to overturn Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976

The City of Seattle will join King County in initiating a legal challenge to stop Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive Initiative 976 from taking effect, Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced at a press conference today in the Norman B. Rice Room on the seventh floor of Seattle City Hall.

“As Mayor, my core job is protect the people,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“I-976 is not only unfair, it is not only unwise, it is unconstitutional.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announce that the city will join King County in suing to overturn Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive Initiative 976 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

“We know we need to move forward as quickly as we can to secure an injunction to prevent the irreparable harm to our most vulnerable residents,” the Mayor said, explaining that the first objective in the suit would be to put the initiative on ice until its constitutionality is determined by the State Supreme Court. “While no one can be a hundred percent sure of what will happen in any court action, I have a lot of confidence in our lawyers, and in our theory, and in our courts.”

“I knew from the moment I read the text of Initiative 976 that it had some fairly obvious legal problems,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. “Had Mr. Eyman developed an initiative that was constitutional, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Holmes said the legal challenge will be filed next week, jointly with King County, in King County Superior Court. The case will be handled in-house by city and county attorneys, as opposed to a private law firm retained by the two jurisdictions.

“The injunction is absolutely necessary to prevent this real very harm to our communities. My team has put their heads together with lawyers from King County. We’ve spent considerable time… and we’ve developed a path forward.”

Holmes and Durkan both emphasized that I-976 repeals Seattle’s city level vehicle fees, even though the fees were approved by voters a few years ago.

Eyman has dishonestly claimed that I-976 allows vehicle fees that exceed thirty dollars if they are voter approved, but in fact it doesn’t, because it explicitly repeals the statute that gives cities like Seattle the authority to levy vehicle fees in the first place. This is an issue that will be undoubtedly raised in the legal challenge.

The flawed, deceptive, one-sided I-976 ballot title reads as follows:

Initiative Measure No. 976 concerns motor vehicle taxes and fees.

This measure would repeal, reduce, or remove authority to impose certain vehicle taxes and fees; limit annual motor-vehicle-license fees to $30, except voter-approved charges; and base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

Emphasis is mine.

The ballot title was written by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, not Tim Eyman, but Eyman picked this particular ballot title nonetheless… he filed several versions of I-976 and ended up picking the I-976 title as the one he liked best.

The city and county may argue in court that this language could lead a reasonable person trying to decide how to vote on I-976 to believe that existing motor vehicle license fees that had already received voter approval (like Seattle’s) would be exempt from the thirty dollar limitation. But again, that is not the case.

If you open the text of I-976, you’ll see that Section 6, subsection 4 of I-976 repeals RCW 82.80.140. This is the statute that gives transportation benefit districts the authority to levy vehicle fees for local transportation improvements.

With its statutory authority to levy vehicle fees to buy more Metro bus service repealed, Seattle’s voter-approved charges would have to be discontinued upon implementation of the measure, despite the assurance in the I-976 ballot title that “voter-approved charges” would be exempt from the limitation.

Note also that the ballot title does not distinguish between state, regional, and local fees… it just talks about “annual motor vehicle license fees”.

It is not stated or explained in the ballot title that “motor vehicle license fees” means a whole host of different revenue sources: state vehicle weight fees, the Sound Transit motor vehicle excise tax, city transportation benefit district vehicle fees, and the retail sales and use tax on motor vehicles.

Holmes indicated Seattle and King County will also contend that I-976 violates the single subject rule, the same flaw that brought down Eyman’s first measure to gut vehicle fees (I-695 in 1999) as well as his most recent scam, a hostage-taking scheme to force the Legislature to amend the Constitution to his liking (I-1366).

I believe the problems with the I-976 ballot title could be the key to I-976’s undoing. The ballot title is the sole representation of Initiative 976 that voters saw on their ballots. The courts will be carefully scrutinizing the title as part of their constitutional review of the initiative. Naturally, the courts will also look at the text of the measure. Each provision will be subjected to a magnifying glass.

If King County and Seattle (or Sound Transit, which I’m guessing will file its own lawsuit) can demonstrate to our state’s judiciary that the measure is unconstitutional;, it will not go into effect. Hopefully they can.

But even if I-976 gets struck down, the Legislature will still be under pressure to make significant changes to the state’s multilayered vehicle fee revenue structure.

Voters in Pierce and Snohomish counties have made their frustration with the current system evident. The Legislature will need to identify alternative means of raising revenue for the state’s multimodal transportation infrastructure regardless of what happens with the lawsuit that Seattle and King County plan to file.

On Sunday, November 17th, NPI will be hosting our first ever Postelection Brunch with legislative leaders from the House and Senate to discuss this very subject. All proceeds from the event will benefit NPI’s work. Tickets may be obtained here.

Join us for NPI's Postelection Brunch

Join us for brunch on November 17th!

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Thurston and Island counties defy Tim Eyman, swing into the NO on I-976 column

Today was the second day of tabulation in the November 2019 general election in Washington State, which remains an election in progress, as I stated last night.

While our analysis suggests that Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976 will still be ahead when all the ballots are counted (which is a shame), the updated returns that were released today show us moving in a positive direction.

Tim Eyman will not finish this election with the “phenomenal” numbers that had him in such a state of euphoria at the Bellevue Hyatt last night.

Keep Washington Rolling, the coalition that opposed I-976, worked hard and cooperatively to wage a vigorous, full-throated campaign against this destructive measure, and today’s results demonstrate that that work had an impact.

Last night, there were just four counties opposing I-976: King, Jefferson, San Juan, and Whatcom. But as of today, there are six! Reinforcements have arrived. Thurston County and Island County have joined the NO on I-976 column, probably for good, thanks to newly tabulated ballots favoring the NO side.

Eyman’s share of the vote statewide has begun declining as well.

As of Election Night, Eyman had 55.76% of the statewide vote. As of today, I-976 had slipped to 55.07%. The initiative will slide under 54% tomorrow, and maybe even under 53%. By Friday, Eyman will have lost even more ground.

Every day that we can reduce the share of the yes vote and increase the no vote is a good day. If we can’t defeat I-976 at the ballot, we at least want to even the score to the greatest extent that we can. And it looks like we’re on our way to accomplishing just that. Meanwhile, planning is underway for a legal challenge to continue the battle against Initiative 976 in the courts.

Thurston and Island counties were only narrowly voting for I-976 as of last night, which is why we were able to flip them in the span of a single day.

There are two other small counties that are potentially flippable: Clallam and Whitman. In Clallam, the no vote is 48,78%. In Whitman, the no vote is 48.14%. Whitman has 2,500 ballots on hand awaiting processing and Clallam has 4,250. If there are enough NO votes in the yet-to-be-tabulated ballots, then the NO on I-976 column might get even bigger by next week.

None of the big swing counties are close enough to be flipped (that’d be Snohomish, Pierce, Spokane, and Clark). There might be a chance of flipping Kitsap, though. The NO vote there is currently 47.36% and climbing, and there are a substantial number of ballots left to count… 25,000.

If enough of those 25,000 ballots favor Keep Washington Rolling’s position, Kitsap might swing away from Eyman. Fingers crossed…

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

King County preparing legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive Initiative 976

Although many ballots remain to be counted, the battle over Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 appears set to shift to the legal arena.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced today he has asked Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg to prepare a legal challenge to I-976, which threatens billions of dollars in bipartisan, voter-approved transportation funding.

Constantine did not specify a timetable for commencing the legal challenge, but the lawsuit could be filed within days or weeks. Barring a court-ordered injunction, Initiative 976 would otherwise take effect in early December.

I-976 is failing in King County, just like Eyman’s previous measures to slash vehicle fees (I-695 in 1999 and I-776 in 2002). Eyman repeatedly declared with absolute confidence that King County and even Seattle would support I-976.

“The passage of I-976 underscores the ongoing need for comprehensive state tax reform, but for in the short term we must clean up another mess that Tim Eyman has created for our state, our region, and our economy,” Constantine said.

“There will be many discussions in the weeks and months ahead to determine how to overcome the loss of safety and mobility caused by this irresponsible initiative, but the impact of I-976 to transportation is – in a word – devastating.”

“We and the City of Seattle share a set a principles with which we will approach mobility reductions,” the Executive added, alluding to Seattle’s investment in expanded Metro bus service hours, an investment I-976 attempts to repeal.

“These principles include: minimizing impacts to vulnerable populations, especially those with low-incomes and people of color; maintaining the ten and fifteen minute service frequency whenever possible; and minimizing overcrowding.”

Tim Eyman’s initiatives typically have constitutional defects, and King County will attempt to prove that Initiative 976 is unconstitutional in order to bar it from being implemented. Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office will be in the awkward position of having to defend the initiative at the same time preparing for trial against Tim Eyman over his many campaign finance law violations.

Ferguson will likely direct his office to have separate teams working on each case that do not communicate with each other about the respective cases. The campaign finance unit will undoubtedly continue to handle the Eyman litigation while another team attempts to defend I-976.

Other local governments — like Seattle — could potentially join King County in suing to overturn I-976. Seattle has a lot to lose if I-976 is implemented, and its city-level vehicle fee is voter-approved. Executive Constantine’s office provided this map showing all of the Metro bus routes that could be affected by the loss of funding coming from Seattle’s transportation benefit district:

Seattle Metro bus routes jeopardized by I-976

A map of bus routes that are supported by vehicle fees paid by Seattle taxpayers

“Our state’s tax system is inefficient, unfair, volatile, inadequate, and bad for business,” Executive Constantine argued. “Local governments have few tools at their disposal to provide all of the infrastructure and services on which successful communities and a thriving economy depend. Today, our economy is generating unprecedented prosperity, while at the same time governments are forced to cobble together transit and road systems from antiquated, inadequate and unpopular funding sources. We can and must do better.”

Executive Constantine is correct that we need meaningful and comprehensive tax reform. The Legislature needs to stop talking about reforming our tax code and actually start taking action. Until that becomes a priority, we will continue to be hamstrung by an inequitable, sales-tax dependent system of raising revenue that Tim Eyman can exploit to undermine people’s confidence in their government.

Executive Constantine is also wholly justified in moving forward with a legal challenge. Washington cannot afford Initiative 976. It’s irresponsible and immoral. It must be defeated. If it is not defeated in this election, it must be challenged in court. If the courts do not strike it down, there will need to be a legislative response to ensure that it cannot be implemented as designed.

The fight against I-976 must and shall continue until I-976 is vanquished.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Voters in 40th, 13th Districts retain Liz Lovelett and Alex Ybarra as their legislators

Legislative positions in Washington State are not normally contested in odd numbered years, but due to two resignations following last year’s midterms, two of Washington’s newest legislators appeared on this year’s ballot to defend their seats in special elections. Both of them are comfortably ahead in early returns.

Senator Lovelett leads in the 40th 

Early results on election night showed Washington State Senator for the 40th Legislative District, Elizabeth (Liz) Lovelett (D-40th District: Anacortes, San Juan Islands) defending her Senate seat. Voters in the 40th LD, which includes San Juan County and portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, backed Lovelett overwhelmingly. Her Republican opponent is nowhere close to her.

Lovelett was appointed to the Washington State Senate in February, a few weeks after former Democratic State Senator Kevin Ranker abruptly resigned amid allegations that he harassed a female employee.

She then defended her seat in Washington’s Top Two election back in August against two other Democratic challengers.

Daniel Miller, the only Republican who filed in the race, faced off against Lovelett in the general election. Two hours after the 8 PM ballot cut off time, Lovelett was leading with nearly 70 percent of the votes.

Lovelett was an active legislator in this year’s long session.

She describes her accomplishments as having secured record higher education funding, implementing modest reforms to Washington’s regressive tax code and dedicated a majority of her bandwidth as a legislator to landing clean energy investments. She also served on the Transportation Committee and was made the Vice Chair of the Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.

Assuming she wins, she hopes to return to the Legislature to continue her efforts to preserve Washington’s environment amid threats from the climate crisis, invest in clean energy, and move Washington towards a greener future.

For example, she is keen on electrifying Washington State Ferries’ fleet.

Before serving as state senator, Lovelett was on the Anacortes City Council, representing an at large position, Position #6, since 2013.

Her campaign for reelection was supported by many influential organizations, including the Washington State Labor Council, Washington Education Association, Lummi Nation and Washington Conservation Voters.

Representative Ybarra ahead in the 13th

Over in the 13th LD, located in Eastern Washington and spanning over all or most of Lincoln, Grant and Kittitas counties, Representative Alex Ybarra leads by an enormous margin in his race against Democratic challenger Steve Verhey.

Ybarra was nominated to the House seat when Matt Manweller vacated the spot shortly after being elected amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Ybarra hopes to return to the Legislature for the 2020 session to focus on water issues and education, which were also his priorities this past year.

During the 2019 session, Ybarra’s bill that allowed more flexibility on requirements for new teachers was signed by Governor Jay Inslee.

“I’m excited to see this become law. My bill will open up opportunities for people looking to change careers and attract a more diverse pool of candidates into education programs,” said Ybarra in a statement about the education bill.

Before being nominated for the House position, Ybarra worked as a reliability and compliance internal auditor for the Grant County Public Utility District. He was also a member of the Quincy school board and a member of Washington’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, as well as the School Directors Association Board.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

The Washington Secretary of State’s official results website had a bad election night

Last night was pretty rough for results.vote.wa.gov, the official election results website maintained by the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

With two hot-button, controversial measures on the statewide ballot, a lot of Washingtonians were interested in the early returns for Initiative 976 and Initiative 1000, concerning transportation funding and affirmative action, respectively.

Unfortunately, the site was malfunctioning for much of the evening. It displayed inaccurate percentages for some counties and no data at all for others, forcing reporters, activists, and observers to go directly to county election websites to obtain data from PDFs or text files. This situation persisted for hours.

By 1 AM this morning, the problems (or at least most of them) appeared to have been quietly resolved without an apology or even a comment from Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office. The county-by-county maps of the two statewide ballot measures are now showing results data from all thirty-nine counties, and the percentages appear to correspond to the actual vote totals.

NPI’s archiving tools saved copies of the site while the errors were live.

As you can see from this screenshot, taken from a copy of the site made at 8:05 PM, the percentages for Initiative 976 in Pacific County are incorrect.

The Yes vote was shown as 22.73% and the No vote as 12.42%. The percentages should have read 64.66% for the yes side and 35.34% for the no side.

Errors on results.vote.wa.gov

This image shows the I-976 county-by-county results map as it appeared at 8:05 PM.

An hour later, the percentages were still wrong.

Here’s a screenshot taken from a copy of the results website made at 9:05 PM:

Errors on results.vote.wa.gov

This image shows the I-976 county-by-county results map as it appeared at 9:05 PM.

The yes vote in Pacific County on I-976 by this point was being shown as 0.33% and the no vote as 0.18%… still incorrect figures. Again, the percentages should have read 64.66% for the yes side and 35.34% for the no side.

You can also see from that screenshot that data from a number of counties is missing. For example, by that point in the evening, Snohomish County had published its initial returns, but they were not being aggregated. That caused the topline figures for the ballot measures to unnecessarily out of date and skewed.

In addition, the timestamp for the state as a whole read “Last updated on 11/06/2019 5:00 PM“. As in today at 5 PM, about twenty hours in the future!

By 10:05 PM, Snohomish’s initial returns had been aggregated in, but data from Clallam, Chelan, Okanogan, Lincoln, and Franklin counties had not been.

By midnight, only Franklin’s data had been incorporated.

Errors on results.vote.wa.gov

This image shows the I-976 county-by-county results map as it appeared at 11:55 PM.

It was not until after midnight that data from Clallam, Chelan, Okanogan, and Lincoln counties was finally incorporated into the results website — more than four hours after the first results had been posted for public consumption.

This is not the first time that results.vote.wa.gov has suffered from problems and mishaps. But it needs to be the last. How can we have confidence in the data that the Secretary of State is publishing if that data is incomplete and error-ridden?

The data export functionality on results.vote.wa.gov also suffers from several issues, namely a failure to adhere to consistent standards for the presentation of data. Jurisdiction names, candidate names, and contest names do not follow a standard format, significantly complicating potential reuses of the data.

At NPI, we use the data export functionality on results.wa.gov to power Pacific NW Portal’s elections engine. To make the engine go, NPI’s Operations Director and chief technologist Rennie Sawade routinely has to write special code to compensate for all the problems in the XML published by the Secretary of State.

If the source data was clean, consistent XML, that wouldn’t be necessary.

Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman prides herself on her elections administration expertise, so hopefully she’s just as appalled about the problems that I’ve described in this post as we are.

Wyman needs to act immediately to rectify these issues so that Washington’s election results website isn’t a malfunctioning embarrassment next year.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Voters give thumbs up to amendment to make Washington State more earthquake-ready

Early returns in the November 2019 general election indicate that Senate Joint Resolution 8200 (SJR 8200) will easily be approved by Washington State voters.

If passed, SJR 8200 would amend the Washington State Constitution to allow the state’s emergency powers to be invoked in the event of a “catastrophic incident”, as opposed to merely an “enemy attack” (which is the only scenario contemplated in the Constitution’s existing language.)

The amendment would authorize the Washington Legislature to pass bills addressing the succession of powers and duties of elected officials to allow for “continuity of state and local governmental operations.”

The amendment received the support of large bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It was sponsored by Dean Takko (D-19th District: Southwest Washington), who serves on the Senate’s State Government Committee alongside senators like Sam Hunt and Patty Kuderer.

Takko has argued that the amendment is necessary to help Washington prepare for a major earthquake. The possible devastation that a massive tremblor could cause was memorably discussed in a 2015 New Yorker article, The Really Big One:

When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west — losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries.

Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan.

The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable.

“I grew up between the mouth of the Columbia River and Aberdeen. That’s ground zero for the Cascadia Subduction Zone,” Takko said at the time the amendment and a companion bill were being considered in the Legislature. “We hate to think of a big earthquake coming, but we’re past due for one. If the worst does come and we have an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or tsunami, this measure will allow us to have a functional government when people will need help the most.

“Last year, this issue got hung up on the last day of session,” Takko recalled.

“I’m glad that the House has moved earlier this year.”

Opponents of SJR 8200 fear that the amendment could allow the state’s emergency powers to be more easily misused, while proponents have pointed out that it makes no sense to have emergency powers that can only be invoked in the event of a war but not a more likely emergency scenario such as an earthquake. Voters have clearly found the latter argument persuasive.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 passing statewide, losing in King, Whatcom, San Juan, Jefferson

The deadline to turn in ballots has passed in Washington state, which means results have started to become available. Initiative 976, Tim Eyman’s attempt to eliminate billions of dollars in bipartisan, voter-approved transportation funding, is ahead in early returns, with just four of thirty-nine counties in the no column.

The initial returns, taken together from all of the counties that have released tabulations thus far, resemble the initial results for Initiative 1366 four years ago. That was the last Tim Eyman measure that appeared on Washington’s ballot.

Keep Washington Rolling, the coalition that fought I-976, is so far mustering a 58% no vote in Jefferson County, a 55% no vote in King County, a 52% no vote in Whatcom County, and a % no vote in San Juan County.

But to win, the coalition would need to perform better in the big swing counties, like Snohomish, Pierce, Spokane, Kitsap, Whatcom, and Clark counties.

Right now, it’s losing all of them.

The yes vote in Snohomish County is currently 61%. In Pierce County, it’s 67%. In Spokane County, it’s 56%. Kitsap County is closer, with the yes vote there only 53%. In Thurston County, the vote on Initiative 976 is a virtual tie.

That all adds up to a lead of over one hundred thousand votes for Eyman.

That advantage will likely shrink in the days to come.

Late ballots often trend more progressive.

With early election turnout rather low this year and skewing conservative, there’s reason to believe the margins will narrow.

Many undecided voters voted late in this election and dropped off their ballots late Tuesday. We don’t know how those votes are going to break.

If those votes don’t break our way, or if they do but it’s not enough to change the result, there will almost certainly be a legal challenge.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson (whose office produced the I-976 ballot title) will have to defend Initiative 976 in court while simultaneously prosecuting Eyman for breaking campaign finance laws. The plaintiffs will likely request an injunction to prohibit the initiative from taking effect while the challenge is considered.

The lawsuit will contend that I-976 violates the Washington State Constitution.

To date, seven Eyman initiatives have been struck down in the by the Washington State Supreme Court – you can see our accounting of failed Eyman initiatives through NPI’s Permanent Defense’s handy Failure Chart.

Although I-976 is ahead, there are other transportation-related measures on the ballot at the local level that are faring much better.

Duvall, in the Snoqualmie Valley, and Gig Harbor, on the Kitsap Peninsula, are both smaller towns on the edges of the Seattle metro area that are giving enthusiastic support to proposed tax increases to fund transportation improvements.

While each city’s demographics are changing, both jurisdictions are considerably more conservative than the Puget Sound region as a whole.

Both municipalities proposed transportation-related 0.2% increases to their municipal sales tax, taking advantage of their authority to form transportation benefit districts to raise revenue for road improvements.

Both levies are easily passing. Gig Harbor’s levy currently leads with 57% of the vote, while Duvall’s levy is favored by a whopping 68% of voters voting.

As ballots continue to be counted in the coming weeks, a reminder that you can keep track of results both state-wide and local as they come in via NPI’s elections engine on Pacific NW Portal. We’ll also publish additional analysis of key races at both the state and local levels here on the Cascadia Advocate.

Should I-976 end up passing, the effort to defeat it will continue in the courts. Washington cannot afford for I-976 to be implemented. The measure would increase traffic, eliminate good paying jobs, worsen pollution, lessen access to affordable housing, and make our tax code more inequitable.

On November 17th, NPI will host a panel discussion with legislative leaders centered on continuing the fight against I-976 at our inaugural Postelection Brunch. Anyone who supports NPI’s work is welcome to join us.

Tickets are $50 and are available here.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Today is General Election Day 2019. Haven’t voted yet? It’s time to get that ballot in!

Today is General Election Day in Washington State and in several other states, including Oregon and Idaho. Much is at stake. Voters in Washington will decide the fate of three legitimate statewide ballot measures (Initiative 976, Initiative 1000, Senate Joint Resolution 8200) and two legislative positions being contested in special elections, along with thousands of offices at the local level.

2019 is truly a local election year: Most home rule counties that operate under their own charters (like King, Snohomish, Clark, and Whatcom) will be filling positions, along with most cities, school districts, and ports.

Oregon and Idaho have no state-level measures on the ballot today, but there are a few local positions and measures on the ballot in numerous jurisdictions.

Have you voted yet? If you have, congratulations on fulfilling your civic duty. Now, go check up on your friends and family and make sure they’ve voted, too.

Haven’t voted yet? It’s time to get that ballot in! You’ve only got a few hours left before time runs out to participate. There’s no excuse for not voting.

You should have received your ballot in the mail a few weeks ago from the county you reside in. If you did not receive a ballot, or if you have misplaced your ballot, you should call your county auditor or elections office to obtain a provisional ballot.

Don’t forget to sign your ballot before putting it in a drop box or the mail. Washingtonians, locate the nearest drop box to you by going here.

If you live in Oregon, don’t take your ballot to a post office, as it’s too late to mail it. Find a drop box instead, and take your ballot there.

Not sure who to vote for? If you belong to or prefer a particular political party, you may want to consult their list of endorsements.

There’s also the Progressive Voters Guide maintained by Fuse Washington.

NPI has taken positions on the following statewide ballot measures in Washington (we do not endorse or oppose candidates for office).

Legitimate statewide ballot measures

  • Initiative 976, sponsored by Tim Eyman): NO
  • Initiative 1000/Referendum 88, sponsored by Kan Qiu: APPROVED
  • Senate Joint Resolution 8200 (constitutional amendment): APPROVED

Tim Eyman’s push polls

Vote “MAINTAINED” on all twelve to resist Tim Eyman’s malicious attempts to undermine our system of representative government.

  • “Advisory Vote” #20 (Second Substitute House Bill 1087)
  • “Advisory Vote” #21 (Engrossed Third Substitute House Bill 1324)
  • “Advisory Vote” #22 (Substitute House Bill 1652)
  • “Advisory Vote” #23 (Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1873)
  • “Advisory Vote” #24 (Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2158)
  • “Advisory Vote” #25 (Substitute House Bill 2167)
  • “Advisory Vote” #26 (Substitute Senate Bill 5581)
  • “Advisory Vote” #27 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5993)
  • “Advisory Vote” #28 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5997)
  • “Advisory Vote” #29 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5998)
  • “Advisory Vote” #30 (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6004)
  • “Advisory Vote” #31 (Engrossed Senate Bill 6016)

Then, compose a short message to legislative leaders in the House and the Senate asking them to repeal Eyman’s push polls during the upcoming 2020 legislative session so these stupid things never appear on our ballots again.

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Washington’s general election voter turnout is low so far, but not as bad as 2015 or 2017

Fewer than one in five Washingtonians have cast a ballot so far in this year’s November general election, but voter turnout is at least on track to surpass the low marks set during the last two local election cycles, when Washington repeatedly set new records for the worst general election voter turnout in state history.

At around this juncture two years ago, statewide turnout was just 16.8%. And on the day before Election Day four years ago, turnout was 17.4%.

This year, it’s 19.4%, with about a day and a half left to vote.

Small counties are once again the turnout leaders. Tiny Columbia County leads with 35.9% turnout, followed by Ferry, Lincoln, and Pend Oreille Counties. West of the Cascades, Jefferson is the turnout leader, with 28.5% of ballots returned.

Of the larger counties, Spokane and Whatcom are both closing in on 25%, while Pierce and Snohomish are lagging behind. Snohomish has the second worst turnout in the state (at 15.9%) and Pierce has the fourth worst turnout (16.2%).

King County is doing modestly better, with 18.9% of ballots returned.

Here are the numbers for every single county:

CountyVotersReturnedPercentage
State4,501,807872,89519.4%
Adams7,0171,39119.8%
Asotin15,1174,29028.4%
Benton114,75820,06117.5%
Chelan46,03211,45124.9%
Clallam53,87113,21024.5%
Clark293,34251,95817.7%
Columbia2,68896535.9%
Cowlitz66,40311,10316.7%
Douglas22,7035,50524.2%
Ferry4,8381,54031.8%
Franklin37,0835,48314.8%
Garfield1,68843225.6%
Grant42,3429,56322.6%
Grays Harbor44,95811,04024.6%
Island58,57214,19324.2%
Jefferson25,8517,36328.5%
King1,329,331251,04318.9%
Kitsap174,73934,34419.7%
Kittitas26,6865,86922.0%
Klickitat14,5883,06121.0%
Lewis49,52411,19122.6%
Lincoln7,4352,34531.5%
Mason40,52810,70026.4%
Okanogan23,8335,18021.7%
Pacific15,5073,66223.6%
Pend Oreille9,3422,76929.6%
Pierce519,23284,22016.2%
San Juan13,7113,70127.0%
Skagit78,21414,34618.3%
Skamania8,0871,30316.1%
Snohomish475,75075,82315.9%
Spokane330,41182,36224.9%
Stevens31,9467,91424.8%
Thurston186,40935,76319.2%
Wahkiakum3,22865920.4%
Walla Walla35,3036,15917.4%
Whatcom146,59435,80824.4%
Whitman24,9894,35117.4%
Yakima119,15720,77417.4%
State4,501,807872,89519.4%

Last year, Washingtonians turned out in force in the 2018 midterms, arresting and reversing a nearly decade old decline in voter turnout in every type of election.

But this year, we’re back to struggling to surpass fifty percent turnout.

What can we do? Everyone reading this post has an obligation to do our part to boost voter turnout. That means going above and beyond voting ourselves. It means checking up on friends and family and asking them to do their civic duty.

There are no “off” years… every election year is an “on” year… so banish that term from your vocabulary and make sure people you know have voted.

We are blessed to live in a democratic republic where we get to choose our leaders as opposed to an authoritarian regime where we have no voice and no vote in our governance. Voting is an important obligation of citizenship.

There are no acceptable excuses for not voting, especially not when three weeks are provided to fill out and return ballots, which is the case here in Washington.

So please: Talk to your colleagues, family, and friends about tomorrow’s election. Ask them if they’ve voted. If they have, thank them.

And if they haven’t, offer to help them make a plan for voting. Research shows that people are more likely to vote when they make a plan to vote.

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Last Week (October 28th-31st) In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted

Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Thursday, October 31st.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

ADOPTING RULES FOR IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: Voting 232 for and 196 against, the House on October 31st adopted a resolution (H. Res 660) offered by majority Democrats setting ground rules for public hearings that will be the next phase of the ongoing inquiry into potential impeachment of Donald Trump.

The resolution was supported by all but two of the 234 Democrats who voted and opposed by all 196 Republicans who voted. Four representatives did not vote.

The Democrats voting no were Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Independent Justin Amash of Michigan voted yes.

The Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence will begin public hearings and is authorized to release transcripts of the testimony it has already taken in closed sessions. The panel will report its findings to the Judiciary committee, which would decide in additional public hearings whether to send articles of impeachment to the full House. Any House vote(s) on impeachment could occur in December.

If the House voted to impeach, the Senate would conduct a trial to determine if Trump would be removed from office.

Democrats said the procedure will be similar to that used in previous impeachments, including the House Republican majority’s 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The resolution provides Intelligence committee Republicans the same opportunity as Democrats to question witnesses, with staff attorneys for each party allotted 45 minutes per witness before lawmakers ask questions.

However, Democrats would maintain control of inquiry since majority votes would be needed to call witnesses and issue subpoenas.

Trump and/or his counsel will be able to participate when the proceedings reach the Judiciary committee. They can present a defense case, respond to evidence, cross-examine witnesses, raise objections and request additional evidence and testimony. But they can only call witnesses if majority Democrats agree that the testimony is “necessary or desirable to a full and fair record” of the proceedings.

If Trump declines to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee, he could lose some of the rights granted to him at the outset.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said: “These open hearings, seeking the truth and making it available to the American people, will inform Congress on the very difficult decision we will have to make in the future as to whether to impeach the president. That decision has not been made. That is what the inquiry will investigate, and then we can make the decision based on the truth. I don’t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth.”

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said the House “is using its power to discredit democracy. By using secret interviews and selective leaks to portray the president’s legitimate actions as an impeachable offense. Democrats are continuing their permanent campaign to undermine his legitimacy. For the last three years, they have predetermined the president’s guilt, they have never accepted the voters’ choice to make him president.”

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.

The State of Idaho

Voting Nay (2): Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (4): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (7): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck

Voting Nay (3): Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cascadia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

DECLARING ARMENIAN MASSACRE A GENOCIDE: Voting 405 for and 11 against, the House on October 29th adopted a resolution (H. Res 296) officially recognizing Turkey’s killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the fading Ottoman Empire in 1915-16 as a genocide. Three members answered “present,” which indicates they participated in the roll call without taking a stand.

They were Republican Paul Gosar of Arizona and Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

More than thirty countries and forty-nine U.S. states have formally declared the killings a deliberate, premeditated extermination, or genocide, as opposed to Turkey’s assertion that the deaths were collateral damage of World War I.

For the United States to officially declare an Armenian genocide, this measure would have to pass the Senate and gain President Trump’s signature.

Brad Sherman, D-California, said: “It is critical that we counteract Turkey’s genocide denial, because genocide denial is the last act of a genocide — first you obliterate a people, then you seek to obliterate their memory, and finally you seek to obliterate the memory of the obliteration…. We must recognize this genocide to remove the stain on America’s honor because, up until now, we have refused to acknowledge truth and we have been silent, all in an effort at appeasement” of Turkey.

Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said: “The Armenian genocide is the only genocide of the 20th century where survivors, family, and all those who care about this important issue have been subjected to the ongoing outrage of a massive, well-funded, aggressive campaign of genocide denial, openly sustained and lavishly funded by… the government of Turkey.”

No member spoke against the resolution.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (2): Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (5): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader; Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (10): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cascadia total: 17 aye votes

SANCTIONING TURKEY OVER ITS INVASION OF SYRIA: Voting 403 for and 16 against, the House on October 29th passed a bill (H.R. 4695) to penalize Turkey and Edrogan’s government if it resumes or continues attacks on Kurdish forces and civilians in northeastern Syria that began when Donald Trump reduced America’s military presence there in early October.

The bill would freeze the U.S. assets of top government officials and cancel their U.S. visas while imposing sanctions on certain Turkish banks.

In addition, the bill would block the sale of U.S. arms that Turkey could use in its Syrian offensive and require the administration to develop a strategy for preventing a resurgence of Islamic-state military strength in the region.

Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida., said the bill would send “a unified, bipartisan message to Turkey that, if you want to be considered a strategic ally of the United States, a true ally, you have to act like one.”

No member spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (2): Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (5): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader; Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (10): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cascadia total: 17 aye votes

PROHIBITING MINING NEAR GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK: Voting 236 for and 185 against, the House on October 30th passed a bill (H.R. 1373) that would make permanent a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new mining claims on federally owned land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona. During the House’s debate on the legislation, there was discussion of groundwater pollution attributed to an inoperative uranium mine that was opened in 1986 in nearby Kaibab National Forest..

Ed O’Halleran, D-Arizona, said: “Potential contamination of the water by uranium mining would have a ripple effect that would devastate the 40 million people that rely on the Colorado River and local aquifers. Unfortunately, areas in and near the [Grand Canyon] are plagued by the toxic legacy of uranium mining to this day.”

Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, said the bill would “prevent access to the highest grade and largest quantity of uranium reserves in the country. In doing so, [it] has serious defense and energy security implications” because uranium “is a source of renewable energy and also an irreplaceable application in defense and medicine.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Voting Nay (2): Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (4): Democratic Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (8): Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck; Republican Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler

Voting Nay (1): Republican Representative Dan Newhouse

Not Voting (1): Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cascadia total: 12 aye votes, 4 nay votes, 1 not voting

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Senate chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

LOWERING HEALTHCARE COVERAGE STANDARDS: The Senate on October. 30th failed, 43 for and 52 against, to adopt a Democratic resolution (S.J. Res 52) that would prohibit states from offering in their health-insurance exchanges diluted versions of the coverage required by the Patient Protection Act.

The measure sought to block a Trump regime rule under which states could obtain waivers to offer short-term policies that omit or weaken Patient Protection Act requirements in place since law was enacted in 2010.

The law’s standards are intended to guarantee coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions while requiring PPA policies to cover “essential health benefits” such as pediatric care, mental health and substance-abuse treatments, emergency care, outpatient services and maternity care. Backers of the administration’s waiver policy said it gives states flexibility to develop lower-priced coverage alternatives.

But critics call such policies “junk insurance” that would destroy the health law by siphoning off healthy and younger policyholders.

Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, said: “I think it is important to understand the shortcomings of these junk plans that the administration is promoting. These plans are allowed to deny coverage to someone who has a preexisting condition.”

John Barasso, R-Wyoming, claimed in response: “Republicans remain one hundred percent committed to protecting people with preexisting conditions. We will protect them today, tomorrow, and always.”

A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.

The State of Idaho

Voting Nay (2):
Republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray

Cascadia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The Senate will debate appropriations bills and judicial nominations during the week of November 4th, while the House of Representatives will be in recess.

Editor’s Note: The information in NPI’s weekly How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted feature is provided by Voterama in Congress, a service of Thomas Voting Reports. All rights are reserved. Reproduction of this post is not permitted, not even with attribution. Use the permanent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

Ten reasons why you should vote NO on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 by November 5th

This year, voters in Washington must decide what to do with Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, a proposed law in the form of a ballot measure that would eliminate billions of dollars in existing bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments.

You can see from our Initiative 976 Impact Map that communities all over the state would be negatively affected by cuts I-976 would force to projects and services:

Initiative 976 Impact Map

Here at the Northwest Progressive Institute, we’ve been working for eighteen months to organize opposition to I-976, because it is a grave threat to Washington’s future. If you are a Washington voter who hasn’t yet mind up their mind on I-976 — or if you know someone who is undecided — we hope you’ll join us in voting NO by this Tuesday. Here are ten reasons why we believe that voting NO on this measure is the only responsible and defensible choice.

Reason #1: I-976 would reduce public safety

We all want and deserve to be able to travel on roads, highways, and railways that are as safe as society knows how to make them. It’s why we wish each other “Safe travels!” when we say au revoir after having spent time together.

Our elected representatives have identified transportation safety as a top priority and have funded a host of road and highway safety improvements in recent transportation investment plans, from the installation of cable barriers in medians to the replacement of deteriorating, obsolete bridges and overpasses.

Tim Eyman’s I-976 threatens these investments, which remain in progress. I-976 would repeal billions of dollars in funding at the state and local levels appropriated to improve the safety of our transportation system.

That’s why the Washington State Troopers Association opposes I-976.

Here’s what the Troopers Association has to say about I-976:

“We oppose this dangerous measure because it would stop thousands of needed road safety repair projects across the state, putting driver and pedestrian safety at greater risk.”

Our Troopers know better than anyone else how much work remains to be done to improve safety on our roads and highways because they’re the ones who get called to the scene of countless crashes and collisions. Every day, they respond to incidents on our highways, many of which involve fatalities.

Many Troopers maintain Twitter accounts and use those accounts to post collision scene photos to remind Washingtonians of the importance of driving defensively, paying attention while behind the wheel, and obeying traffic laws.

These photos speak to the need for further investment to increase public safety on our roads. Here’s one republished by Trooper Johnna Batiste following the crash of a semi that jackknifed over the I-5 center barrier in Thurston County last month:

Collision on I-5 in Thurston County

Scene from a collision on Interstate 5 involving multiple semis (Photo: Washington State Department of Transportation)

Here’s a photo published by Trooper Chelsea Hodgson of a two car collision that caused injuries in Grapeview on State Route 3, also last month:

A car collision on State Route 3

Scene from a crash on State Route 3 (Photo: Washington State Patrol)

Here’s a photo published by Trooper Axtman of a crash on State Route 9 in Bickford, Snohomish County… again, last month:

Collision on State Route 9

Scene from a collision on State Route 9 near Bickford (Photo: Washington State Patrol)

All highway collisions are ultimately the result of human errors like inattentive driving, but safer roads can help minimize the damage that human error causes.

For instance, if the Skagit River Bridge (featured in coalition advertising) had been retrofitted before May 2013, Mullen Trucking couldn’t have brought a section of it down by traveling in a lane that lacked proper overhead clearance.

We owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to make our roads, highways, and railways safe. The data tells us we have a lot of work to do.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Washington State’s infrastructure a grade of “C” two years ago, when it last issued a report card. That was marginally better than the grade the country as a whole got (D-), but still lousy.

We can do better. And we must. Lives depend on our efforts.

“Operation and maintenance costs are extremely important for the condition of our roadways,” ASCE said in its commentary about the state of Washington’s roads. “New capital projects need to be resilient to natural disasters. Even with innovations in roadway technologies, the lack of funding — especially from federal sources — hinders the state’s ability to catch up to the ever-growing needs.”

From 2007 until 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Highway Administration, there were two hundred and forty-five fatal crashes and two hundred and fifty eight fatalities on the Washington portion of Interstate 5, which runs from Vancouver to Blaine. And that’s the death toll from just one highway over the span of one decade.

(See a compilation of the most dangerous highways across the county here.)

When you renew your vehicle’s registration, a significant amount of the fees you pay go to make our roads and bridges safer. Vote NO on I-976 to sustain Washington State’s vital efforts to improve the safety of our transportation system.

Reason #2: I-976 would make traffic worse… much worse

These are polarized times, but no matter what your political views are, you probably don’t enjoy sitting in stop and go traffic, idling in place or inching along at a snail’s pace towards your destination. It can be infuriating.

Recent population increases, coupled with new development, have placed additional strain on Washington’s aging roads and highways.

As bad as gridlock is now, it stands to get much worse if I-976 is implemented. That’s because I-976 would repeal funding for transit agencies all over the state, including King County Metro and Sound Transit in the greater Seattle area, but also small transit agencies in rural communities like Walla Walla’s Valley Transit, Clallam Transit, or Island County’s Island Transit.

We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of hours of bus service.

The loss of all that service will make infuriating gridlock more severe and more common. That’s because those Washingtonians who own cars but currently choose to ride the bus will switch back to driving once their bus service is cut.

They’ll have no other choice to get where they want to go.

Imagine the worst traffic you’ve sat in during the past year.

Then imagine dealing with that kind of traffic every single week.

If you value spending time with your family over jockeying for space on packed roads and highways with your fellow citizens, then vote NO on I-976.

Reason #3: I-976 would strand our carless neighbors

While most Washingtonians own vehicles, not all do. Many Washingtonians cannot drive due to a disability, or due to age (either they’re not old enough to obtain a license, or they’ve reached the age where they can’t safely operate a motor vehicle anymore). Still others do not wish to own a car, or cannot afford to own one.

I-976 would strand these Washingtonians by slashing their transit service.

As mentioned above, I-976 would force deep transit cuts in rural communities.

For example:

Clallam Transit is at risk of losing more than $1.1 million in operating revenue and $2.4 million in state funding for capital projects in 2020 if I-976 passes November 5th, according to information provided by [Clallam Transit Finance Manager Dunyele] Mason.

“In summary, it’s going to hit us hardest in capital, which will affect our operating indirectly because we will now have to set aside some capital,” Mason told the board.

“If this passes, the state is going to make some decisions in the next legislative session next spring,” she added.

“And based on those decisions, we will have a lot more information about where we would be.”

Clallam Transit Board Member and Port Angeles Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter said all public transportation agencies should be concerned about the impacts of I-976.

“If you look at a worst-case scenario potential, it would be really hard to get off the Peninsula without a car,” Dexter said. “Anyone who needs to get to hospitals in Seattle and relies on public transportation of any kind, including the ferries, even with a car, it could be problematic.”

Emphasis is mine.

Don't cut my bus!

Bus service at risk if Initiative 976 is implemented (Graphic by Keep Washington Rolling)

You might think everyone in rural communities owns and drives a car, but that’s actually not true. If I-976 is implemented, it would hit rural communities especially hard, because small transit agencies rely on state mobility grants for a big chunk of their funding. Don’t cut your neighbors off from transit… vote NO on I-976.

Reason #4: I-976 would eliminate good paying jobs

The many bipartisan, voter-approved projects that I-976 would repeal funding for all over the state support thousands of good paying, family wage union jobs in the building and construction trades and related fields.

Multimodal transportation projects require the services of skilled laborers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, ironworkers, pipefitters, electricians, plumbers, and so on. These are good jobs that pay a living wage and offer essential benefits, including healthcare coverage. Losing those jobs would be bad for our economy.

“I-976 means fewer jobs building and maintaining the infrastructure that Washington residents and businesses need for a thriving state economy,” the Washington State Labor Council says. “Working people in this state have seen the damage done by Tim Eyman’s previous attempts to gut motor vehicle excise taxes, and they want no part of it. That’s why the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its six hundred plus affiliated unions have voted to oppose I-976.”

Unions that have declared their opposition to Tim Eyman’s I-976 include the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Laborers, SEIU, the United Automobile Workers, the Washington State Federation of State Employees (AFSCME), and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

The jobs that the members of these unions do can’t be outsourced. These are jobs that support other jobs in our communities. If they go away, we all pay a price.

Vote NO on I-976 to save good paying jobs for Washingtonians.

Reason #5: I-976 would increase pollution

Our planet’s climate has been severely damaged by centuries of fossil fuel use by humankind. As a consequence, we’re seeing a rise in sea level due to the melting of our polar ice caps. Our glaciers are melting, too, and communities around the world are experiencing more severe weather of all kinds.

This is a crisis… a crisis that demands action. We must reduce the pollution going into our air, water, and soil in order to protect the Earth, our common home.

Sadly, I-976 would worsen pollution in the Pacific Northwest at a time when we are trying to set a good example for the world by lowering our emissions. I-976, as mentioned, would result in reductions in bus service all over the state.

Vanpool funding would also be slashed.

But that’s not all.

The measure also seeks to repeal funding for expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail and commuter rail systems that voters previously approved. Light rail is vital to lowering transportation emissions because it can carry large numbers of people through congested corridors without burning any fossil fuels.

Sound Transit’s light rail vehicles don’t have tailpipes — they run on electricity, which can be sustainably generated using solar, wind, or hydroelectric power.

If more people in Washington’s urban core have access to light rail, they can choose a mode of transportation that doesn’t pollute. I-976 threatens to take that choice away from communities like Everett and Tacoma, which are at the ends of proposed new light rail lines due to be constructed between now and 2040.

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility says I-976 is also bad for public health in addition to our climate. They explain:

I-976 is inextricably connected to public health and climate. Gutting public transportation will increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, threatening our health and our climate progress. I-976 means more congestion, and numerous studies show that this will increase the risk of morbidity and mortality due to increased inhaled pollutants by those sitting in traffic. And more accidents and dangerous road conditions will result from I-976’s elimination of critical funding for highway improvements and maintenance.

The Earth is the one and only home we’ve got. There’s no other Earth we can move to if we wreck this one. We’ve got to care for our planet and ourselves.

Vote NO on I-976 to keep Washington on a path to greater sustainability.

Reason #6: I-976 would make our tax code more unfair

According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Washington State has the most upside down, regressive tax code in the country. Those with the most pay the least, while those with the least pay the most.

“According to ITEP’s Tax Inequality Index, which measures the impact of each state’s tax system on income inequality, Washington has the most unfair state and local tax system in the country. Incomes are more unequal in Washington after state and local taxes are collected than before,” ITEP explains.

Initiative 976 attempts to exacerbate this inequity by slashing vehicle fees to a flat thirty dollars everywhere, meaning that a rich Washingtonian who owns a Ferrari or a Lamborgini (or perhaps both!) would pay exactly the same to register their vehicle as a low or middle income Washingtonian who owns a Corolla or a Civic.

Under I-976, the RTA MVET (motor vehicle excise tax) collected by the Department of Licensing for Sound Transit would be repealed, eliminating Washington’s only transportation-specific revenue source that is tied to ability to pay.

Why should a car that is worth $97,000, $57,000, $37,000, or $27,000 cost the same to register as a vehicle that’s worth just $7,000?

Tesla Roadster vs. Toyota Camry

Tim Eyman thinks it should cost the same to register a Tesla Roadster (top) anywhere in Washington as it does to register a Toyota Camry (bottom). That’s ridiculous.

Wealthy Washingtonians don’t need another tax cut, but Tim Eyman wants to give them one anyway. The poorest Washingtonians, meanwhile, would get only a meager tax cut and be stuck with worse traffic and worse pollution.

I-976’s unfairness doesn’t stop there.

If I-976 is implemented, there’s a strong possibility that we could see an increase in ferry/bus/train fares and tolls to cover some of the operating costs that were previously supported by vehicle registration fees. Those fares and tolls will fall more heavily upon people with fixed or limited incomes than people who are buying Aston Martins or Jaguars and getting a nice big Tim Eyman crafted tax cut.

Vote NO on I-976 to stop Washington’s tax code from becoming more unfair.

Reason #7: I-976 is “catastrophic” for our housing market

Matthew Gardner, the chief economist for Windermere, has gone on record saying that I-976 would be “catastrophic” for Washington’s housing market.

In an interview with KIRO’s Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, Gardner described what he thinks will happen to the market if the measure is implemented.

“I think (I-976) is terrible,” Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien. “The effects are going to be potentially catastrophic.”

Gardner’s argument centers around the effect $30 car tabs would have on transit. Opponents have estimated the $30 car tabs measure would wipe out over $4 billion total in state, regional, and local transportation funding over the next decade. Officials also forecast being forced to delay or cancel various transportation projects.

If that happens, Gardner warns it could significantly affect the way people approach the home-buying process, both in Western Washington and across the state.

“Where we talk about price of homes, the further you are away, the cheaper it becomes,” said Gardner.

“You still have to get to your jobs, and the trouble is it’s going to cut back significantly on buses, but not just buses on our existing road system — half of our ferry system will become obsolete by 2040.”

“If (I-976) passes, it’s only going to further decrease affordability — people live closest to where they need to be,” he added.

Access to affordable housing is already a problem in the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Everett area. Let’s not make that problem worse.

Vote NO on I-976 to avoid exacerbating lack of access to affordable housing.

Reason #8: I-976 will increase vehicle maintenance costs

If you do own a car, don’t expect to save any money in the long term under I-976. Not only will you pay more for gasoline or diesel fuel due to poorer fuel economy caused by sitting in increased traffic (if your car is powered by combustion), your car will be traveling over roads that are not being maintained properly.

And that will increase the total cost to own your vehicle(s). Significantly.

The repeated use of a vehicle on bad roads causes a vehicle’s key parts to wear out much faster, including its tires and suspension system.

“While all tires eventually wear down and need replacing, the rate at which they lose their tread depends on how much friction there is with the road,” explains Strutmasters, a family-owned suspension manufacturer.

“Normal driving on well-maintained roads with a good suspension means there will be minimal up-and-down movement of the tires on the road.”

Note the phrase well-maintained roads in that explanation.

Potholes, meanwhile, are a grave threat to those same parts.

Mechanic Jeff White of Garry’s Service Center, a New Hampshire based automotive shop, told New Hampshire Public Radio in 2013 that many of his customers end up with repairs totaling more than $1,000 in a given year from bad roads.

Emily Corwin reports:

White says “when you go over a really big pothole, you can damage suspension parts and steering parts.” Frost heaves and potholes also cause a car’s wheels to go out of alignment.

Then, White says, “the car will either drift right or left, and what that causes, besides a lot of annoyance, is it quickly wears tires.”

Folks driving sports cars will likely have the most road-related damage, White says, including bent and broken rims.

Cities like Spokane are using vehicle fees to pay for road resurfacing and pothole fixing projects. If I-976 is implemented, those funds will be wiped out, and bad roads will not get fixed. It costs money to keep roads well-maintained.

If your vehicle registration costs go down a few bucks, but you then have to pony up thousands for car repairs caused by driving on rutted roads, then you haven’t saved any money at all. You’ve simply put yourself further in the hole.

Vote NO on I-976 to protect yourself against unnecessary car repair bills.

Reason #9: I-976 would overturn local decisions

Home rule and local control over decisionmaking is important to Washingtonians. It’s why we have so many local governments: port districts, school districts, water districts, sewer districts, public utility districts, and even cemetery and mosquito control districts in addition to our cities (municipal corporations) and counties.

I-976 would repeal the authority the state previously gave to cities and to voters in urban Puget Sound to tax themselves to raise funds for badly needed transportation improvements. More than sixty cities rely on vehicle fees to fund essential road maintenance and street repairs. The list includes:

  • Bainbridge Island
  • Battle Ground
  • Black Diamond
  • Bremerton
  • Bridgeport
  • Buckley
  • Burien
  • Carbonado
  • Covington
  • Des Moines
  • DuPont
  • Edgewood
  • East Wenatchee
  • Eatonville
  • Electric City
  • Elmer City
  • Edmonds
  • Enumclaw
  • Everett
  • Fife
  • George
  • Grandview
  • Granite Falls
  • Kalama
  • Kelso
  • Kenmore
  • Kittitas
  • Lake Forest Park
  • Lakewood
  • Longview
  • Lynnwood
  • Mabton
  • Maple Valley
  • Mercer Island
  • Moses Lake
  • Mountlake Terrace
  • Normandy Park
  • Olympia
  • Orting
  • Port Orchard
  • Prosser
  • Richland
  • Roy
  • Royal City
  • Seattle
  • Sedro-Woolley
  • Shoreline
  • Snoqualmie
  • Soap Lake
  • Spokane
  • Tacoma
  • Toppenish
  • University Place
  • Vancouver
  • Wapato
  • Wenatchee
  • Wilkeson
  • Yakima
  • Zillah

I-976 also attempts to overturn the 2016 Sound Transit 3 vote, in which more than a million voters participated. A decisive majority of the electorate decided to tax themselves to fund mass transit expansion in urban King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. I-976 proponent Tim Eyman doesn’t care: he is obsessed with ripping the heart out of Sound Transit and gutting the agency like a pig.

If implemented, I-976 would rip away funding for light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit expansion projects that Sound Transit is working to deliver to the voters. Because I-976 is a statewide initiative, it could pass even if a majority of those inside Sound Transit’s jurisdiction vote against it.

“Curiously, while touting a conservative line on taxation, Eyman’s measure undermines three tenets of conservative governance: local control, designating funds for specific purposes, and user fees in which those who use a service pay for it,” the Yakima Herald-Republic noted in its editorial opposing Initiative 976.

“His initiative also brushes aside the reality that due to inflation, $30 doesn’t buy what it did in 1999, especially in road construction and maintenance.”

“And while Eyman espouses the sanctity of voter approval of taxes, he seeks to employ the rest of the state into overturning the voters’ will in the three-county Sound Transit district — a legacy of his obsessive enmity toward trains and buses.”

“If voters in the Puget Sound region want to raise their own taxes for Sound Transit — they have done so three times since 1996 — they can have at it,” the newspaper’s editorial board declared. “This is not our fight, nor is it the fight of the thirty-six counties not paying into that particular agency.”

Vote NO on I-976 to uphold Washington’s cherished tradition of home rule.

Reason #10: Vehicle fees shouldn’t be based on what Kelley Blue Book (a private company) thinks a car is worth

In addition to attempting to repeal the voter-approved motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) that the Department of Licensing collects on behalf of Sound Transit, Initiative 976 stipulates that any motor vehicle excise tax levied in the future must use Kelley Blue Book to determine the value of the vehicle.

This is problematic because Kelley Blue Book is a private company that may or may not remain a going concern in the future, and its data doesn’t necessarily reflect what buyers and sellers consider a vehicle’s market value to be.

From Section 8 of I-976:

For the purpose of determining a vehicle tax, a taxing district imposing a vehicle tax must set a vehicle’s taxable value at the vehicle’s base model Kelley Blue book value. This ensures an honest and accurate calculation of the tax and, combined with the appeal process in RCW 82.44.065, ensures that vehicle owners are taxed on their vehicle’s market value.

Using Kelley Blue Book does not ensure an honest or accurate calculation of anything. Fair market value is what a prospective buyer is willing to pay and what a prospective seller is willing to accept in return for the title to a vehicle.

If a vehicle you own is severely damaged in a car collision, an insurer (perhaps yours) will make a determination as to whether the vehicle is totaled or not. You, as the vehicle’s owner, can dispute that determination and haggle with the insurer.

If the insurer determines the vehicle is totaled — meaning it costs more to repair than what it’s worth — the insurer will not cover the entirety of the repair bill, assuming the car is even repairable. Insurers do not rely on Kelley Blue Book to determine a car’s worth, and for good reason: what Kelley Blue Book thinks a car is worth may not resemble what a car is actually worth.

Kelley Blue Book even admits this in an FAQ on their website:

Please note that insurance companies do not have any obligation to use Kelley Blue Book pricing to determine replacement values. Insurance companies use Kelley Blue Book as a reference but will set their own policies as to which values they use.

The total loss rules in state regulations permit an insurer to determine the value of a car using one of the following methods, which don’t include Kelley Blue Book:

  • Offer to replace your car with an available and comparable car (leg.wa.gov) in your local area.
  • Offer you a cash settlement based on the actual cash value of comparable cars in your local area.
  • If you and your insurer cannot agree on the actual cash value of your totaled car, your insurance policy may have an appraisal provision in which you and the insurer agree to use independent appraisers or other methods to resolve the value dispute.

Again, suppose your vehicle got damaged in a collision and you looked up what Kelley Blue Book calculated that a car of that same make, model, and model year is worth. You discover it’s not as much as you thought.

Would you be happy if the insurer insisted on using KBB’s data as the basis for deciding how much to offer you for your vehicle?

As stated above, insurers do not rely on Kelley Blue Book to determine what a car is worth, and neither should we as taxpayers and vehicle owners.

The existing schedule that is in use, which is based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price plus depreciation, should definitely be replaced with a better system. But Kelley Blue Book is not a suitable replacement.

Vote NO on I-976 to stop Tim Eyman’s scheme to tie any future motor vehicle excise tax to the data created by Kelley Blue Book owner Cox Automotive Group.


Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of this post! Thanks for reading and please remember to vote NO on I-976 by November 5th at 8 PM!

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

Documentary Reviews: “Guest House”, “John Mendez: The Bridge”, and “Faith in Action”

Seattle’s annual Social Justice Film Festival was held about a month ago, from October 3rd to 12th, and had the theme of “Courage.” On Friday, October 4th, they showed the feature length documentary “Guest House” and two shorts, “John Mendez: The Bridge” and “Faith in Action,” followed by a short panel discussion.

Screened first were the two shorts.

John Mendez does street outreach to people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County, Maryland. The film bearing his name follows him as he meets with people, giving out food and socks in all weather, including snow.

Mendez is a veteran of the United States Marines.

He served in Africa while the Rwandan genocide was happening, but troops were never deployed to Rwanda to do anything to stop the slaughter. Today, witnessing the shorter lifespans of people experiencing homelessness, he sees the apathy towards homelessness as a slow genocide unfolding before our eyes.

Mendez also talks about the need to change people’s ideas and understandings about homelessness, to get people to realize that “it doesn’t need to be that way.” Homelessness, particularly on the large scale we are seeing it in the U.S. today, is not inevitable, and in fact it is only since several policy and funding decisions during the Reagan administration that homelessness became the everyday occurrence it is today. Bad public policy created homelessness, and good public policy can solve it.

“Either you are choosing to govern properly and end homelessness, or you’re not,” says Mendez.

The second short film shown was “Faith in Action,” about events hosted by various churches and religious organizations in the Atlanta area, in partnership with the Fulton County government, to help people expunge criminal records that are holding them back.

Criminal records, even just having arrests on your record not necessarily convictions, can make it hard for people to secure employment and housing. Nearly one in three Americans has a criminal record, and the state of Georgia has one of the highest rates of incarceration.

“When we should have invested in people, we invested in prisons,” says the Reverend of Ebenezer Baptist Church, best-known as the home church of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The tentacles of mass incarceration are strangling our community.”

The church has provided space for the expungement events.

It is “making grace real and literally changing lives,” says the current Reverend.

He says their participation in the events is part of the “spiritual lineage of Martin Luther King that ties faith to freedom fighting.”

These expungement events allow people to complete a process that normally takes 120 days in just a few hours. Expunging records for people and situations that qualify reduces recidivism by reducing barriers.

Studies in states that allow such expungement have proven as much.

Also involved in the events are The Temple, a Jewish organization. The rabbi quotes the Torah, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” He notes how this statement makes clear that justice doesn’t just happen, “we have to make it happen.”

After watching these two short films, the feature-length “Guest House” delved deeply into the subject of addiction recovery and reintegration after incarceration. Guest House is actually the name of a program for women in the Washington, D.C. area, and the film profiles three women who are in the residential program and working hard to get their lives moving in a new direction.

Guest House is actually just the first phase of the six-month program. Residents spend about two months at Guest House, then four months at Sheffield, an apartment building where they live more independently with roommates from the program. After Sheffield, there is also an optional eighteen month follow-up program.

They serve about two hundred women per year, and demand for the program is so high that they turn away over fifteen women for everyone they enroll in the program. Their program model is highly successful, with only a ten percent recidivism rate among their clients.

While in the program, the women go to recovery classes everyday, which often assign homework for women to further explore their addictions. They also have classes at the house, such as yoga, knitting, and self-defense.

Guest House residents

Grace and Selena, residents of Guest House featured in the film of the same name

One of the residents featured in the film is a young woman named Grace. She became addicted to opiates after she sustained nerve damage in her hand and was prescribed painkillers after surgery. While at Guest House, she talks about needing to find a job that pays enough to actually cover all of her expenses.

In the past when she has gotten clean, she has struggled to get work that pays enough, leading her to start selling drugs to make ends meet, and then she has started using drugs again.

Another resident featured in the film is Maddison.

She discussed how being in jail is not beneficial, in terms of making life better, other than detoxing off drugs while there.

Maddison was abandoned by her parents at age nine, her adoptive family was abusive and she found her birth mother again at eigteen. Her mother used drugs, and Maddison started using with her.

Guest House helps women to connect to employment and education, in addition to their other programming. The clinical director talks about how their program emphasizes love and acceptance, along with accountability. Residents need to feel like they are in a safe enough space to unpack their emotions, past traumas, and face things. Grace discusses how she is getting used to feeling emotional pain, something in the past that she always numbed with drugs.

Grace and Maddison both found jobs and moved to Sheffield, then after completing the program, they moved together into an after-care facility.

Programs like Guest House prove that people can be successful in addiction recovery and re-entry to community after incarceration.

Guest House — the film — is currently on the festival circuit and also being shown at other re-entry programs, said Hannah Dweck, one of the directors of the film, at a panel discussion after the film. Dweck said when they have shown the films at other programs, people have said they see themselves in the stories being told, and it makes them feel like they aren’t alone and that they are seen.

The panel was moderate by Marcy Bowers, Director of the Statewide Policy Action Network at Solid Ground, one of the sponsors of the festival. Along with Dweck, other panelists were Mike Kuba, director of “John Mendez: The Bridge,” Tim Harris of Real Change News, and a volunteer from Books to Prisoners.

Bowers asked Harris about his thoughts and insights on the connections between incarceration and homelessness. Harris noted that the trajectories of mass incarceration and homelessness are similar, with rates being low in the late 1970s and early 1980s, then growing in tandem since then.

Now, about one in one hundred Americans experience homelessness, while the same ratio of Americans are currently incarcerated. Both homelessness and mass incarceration are embedded in institutional racism and inequality, Harris noted. While that may make the problems seem insurmountable, the films just viewed show that people can make a difference, he said.

“Guest House” doesn’t have any more screenings scheduled after October, but groups interested in hosting a screening can get information on the film’s website.

“John Mendez: The Bridge” is available to watch for free on Vimeo.

“Faith in Action” can also be viewed on Vimeo, and there is also a website for the expungement campaign that includes a toolkit for people that are interested in planning an event in their community

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren takes on critics, releases plan to finance Medicare For All

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed over $20 trillion in public investment to fund her audacious healthcare plan, known as Medicare For All.

On Friday the Warren campaign released a detailed plan arguing for a number of new taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans, along with offsets and other revenue-increasing measures, to provide healthcare to all.

Senator Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren participates in the Netroots Nation 2019 presidential forum (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

In an email to supporters, Warren linked her Medicare For All proposal to her decades of work researching bankruptcy. The number one reason that Americans go bankrupt is the cost of health care, and three out of four families who declare bankruptcy over health issues had insurance which failed to cover their needs.

Under the current system, eighty-seven million Americans are uninsured or “underinsured,” while tens of millions more avoid picking up prescriptions, miss critical appointments or skip recommended tests. Even for those who have adequate insurance, the average family of four pays over $12,000 a year in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, a number that rises every year.

Warren argued that a humane healthcare system should have “two absolute non-negotiables”: no American should ever die or go bankrupt because of healthcare costs; and every American should be able to see the doctors they need and get treatment, “without having to figure out who is in-network. No for-profit insurance company should be able to stop anyone…from getting the treatment they need.”

Warren’s new proposals not only seek to address the huge cost of healthcare for ordinary Americans, but also answer the question that dogged her in the last Democratic presidential primary debate – namely, whether she would increase taxes on middle income families – with a resounding “no.”

Under Warren’s plan, companies would pay in taxes what they previously paid for private employee insurance, which would raise around $8.8 trillion over the decade. An assortment of new taxes on wealth, investments and financial transactions (that would fall on the wealthiest Americans) would raise $4 trillion more. A slimmed down defense budget could also yield money for the plan.

The increase in revenue would provide for an enormous overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. If Congress created a comprehensive single payer plan for all Americans, employer-sponsored insurance would become irrelevant, freeing millions of employees of the fear of losing health coverage if they leave their job.

What’s more, the thousands of dollars spent per family on copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and premiums would be eliminated. Perhaps most importantly of all, the millions of Americans currently uninsured would have full coverage.

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking in Seattle

Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses a huge crowd in Seattle with the iconic Space Needle in the background (Photo: Bobby Aiyer/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Warren’s main Democratic rival quickly criticized her proposals.

The campaign of Joe Biden – who favors expanding the Patient Protection Act — said the plan was “unrealistic” and argued that “It’s impossible to pay for Medicare for All without middle-class tax increases.”

In recent Democratic primary debates, the argument over the costs of Medicare for All have usually been framed in one of two ways: Biden and other neoliberal candidates argue that Medicare for All would increase taxes – particularly emphasizing the potential burden on the middle class – while Warren and her progressive colleagues have argued that overall costs for healthcare (inclusive of insurance payments and taxes) will be dramatically reduced for the average family.

In her recent announcement, Warren preempted criticisms over taxes by pointing out that the savings her plan would offer ordinary Americans would be larger than the wealthiest saved through Trump’s gigantic 2017 tax scam.

The financial benefits of a Medicare for All system would likely be expansive.

Under the current system, health care providers (particularly pharmaceutical companies) regularly gouge prices on essential products and services – remember the antics of “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli – with patients virtually powerless to resist. Senator Warren plans to put the weight of the federal government behind an aggressive negotiation system, which could pressure healthcare providers to reduce prices for prescription drugs by as much as 70%.

Most countries in the industrialized world have some version of universal healthcare, and few politicians in those countries would argue for an American-style market-based system. In the United Kingdom, for example, the right wing popularized Brexit by promising £350 million ($453 million) a week for the National Health Service – Britain’s publicly-run health care system.

Medicare For All can’t and won’t be delivered overnight, but support is building for the idea of expanding Medicare to cover all Americans.

Elizabeth Warren evidently figured the time was ripe to address the tired old “How will you pay for that?” question, which journalists always seem to ask Democratic candidates, but rarely ask Republican candidates.

The campaign also released an expert letter on cost estimate of Medicare for All, an expert letter on financing Medicare for All, and a calculator in addition to the plan itself. All these materials are available to the public and the press.

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Elizabeth Warren is Donald Trump’s strongest challenger in Evergreen State, NPI poll finds

Of the three Democratic hopefuls currently considered most likely to secure the party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2020, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts does the best in a hypothetical matchup against Republican Donald Trump, a new NPI poll has found.

But only by a smidgen.

60% of Washingtonians surveyed by Public Policy Polling last week for the Northwest Progressive Institute said they would vote for Warren if the election were being held today and the candidates were Warren and Trump.

37% said they would vote for Trump, while 3% were not sure.

59% of those surveyed said they would vote for Biden if the candidates were Biden and Trump, while 58% said they would vote for Sanders if the candidates were Sanders and Trump. Against Biden and Sanders, Trump gets the same 37% he would get in the hypothetical matchup with Warren.

Notably, twice as many likely 2019 Washington State voters (6%) said they were undecided when asked about Sanders versus Trump than when they were asked about Warren or Biden versus Trump (3%). Sanders would still decisively defeat Donald Trump in a head to head matchup, however.

The main takeaway from these findings is that whoever is the Democratic nominee next year can expect to claim Washington State’s twelve electoral votes. Washington is not and will not be a battleground state.

Washington State has not supported the Republican nominee for President in decades. The state backed Ronald Reagan’s candidacy 1980 and 1984; since then, voters in Washington have consistently supported the Democratic nominee (Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton).

This is the second set of findings we have released from our recent survey of nine hundred likely 2019 Washington State voters, which was in the field from Tuesday, October 22nd through Wednesday, October 23rd. We previously released findings showing Washingtonians disapprove of Donald Trump and want him impeached.

The poll utilizes a blended methodology inclusive of cellphone only voters, with 53% of respondents participating via landline and 43% participating via text.

The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

In a preceding survey conducted last May for NPI by PPP, 59% of respondents said they would vote for Trump’s unnamed Democratic challenger were the election being held today. That poll was also of likely 2019 Washington State voters.

Here’s our Warren versus Trump question and responses:

QUESTION: If the election for President were held today and the candidates were Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Warren: 60%
  • Trump: 37%
  • Not sure: 3%

Here are the numbers by region:

QUESTION: If the election for President were held today and the candidates were Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • King County
    • Warren: 77%
    • Trump: 21%
    • Not sure: 2%
  • North Puget Sound
    • Warren: 49%
    • Trump: 45%
    • Not sure: 6%
  • South Sound
    • Warren: 53%
    • Trump: 43%
    • Not sure: 4%
  • Olympic Peninsula and Southwest Washington
    • Warren: 60%
    • Trump: 38%
    • Not sure: 2%
  • Eastern Washington
    • Warren: 48%
    • Trump: 50%
    • Not sure: 2%

We found it striking that in the Eastern Washington region, almost as many voters said they’d support Elizabeth Warren as Trump. Bernie Sanders also achieved 48% in his hypothetical matchup with Donald Trump in Eastern Washington, whereas Joe Biden got 43% to Trump’s 52% in Eastern Washington.

Biden performs just as well as Warren or Sanders in every other region of the state, but east of the Cascades, he loses to Trump instead of pulling almost even.

This disparity is evidence that the conventional wisdom held by many pundits about moving to the middle (or adopting “centrist” positions) is simply not a recipe for bolstering support for the Democratic Party in rural communities.

These numbers show us that Democrats have nothing to lose and everything to gain from selecting a progressive as their nominee instead of a neoliberal. A progressive nominee like Warren or Sanders can secure more support for the Democratic Party among rural voters than a neoliberal like Biden can.