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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2010 elections

Dare to dream …

The GOP tidal wave is being credited with delivering election night victories to candidates at all levels of the political spectrum.

Here’s how Kootenai County Coroner-elect Debbie Wilkey described the 2-to-1 trouncing of her co-worker and Democratic opponent, chief deputy coroner Jody DuLuca Hissong, for the open position:

“If residents of the county came out to make a change, I’m glad I’m part of that change,” Wilkey, who ran as a Republican, said. “I’m so fully looking forward to doing the job of coroner, it is a true dream come true.”

Mapping the Vote: 6th District Senate race

Republican challenger Mike Baumgartner is beating Democratic incumbent Sen. Chris Marr in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District by strong showings in precincts outside the city of Spokane.

This map shows vote percentages from the end of election night.

How close for recount?

The tight race for U.S. Senate would have to get noticeably tighter to trigger a mandatory recount.

Although tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted statewide, including more than 100,000 in King County alone, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray’s current lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi (722,396 to 708,391 as of the latest election night tabulation) is beyond the one half of 1 percent margin that would trigger a mandantory machine recount under state law.

A machine recount also can triggered in statewide races if the the margin between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes. A mandatory hand recount is conducted if the margin falls below 1,000 votes and one quarter of 1 percent of total ballots cast.

The state Elections Division has a fact sheet on recounts that can be found at this link.

Next year’s Legislative split, if trends hold

Democrats will hold a three-seat majority in the state Senate and an eight-seat majority in the state House if current trends in election results hold.

That’s a fairly big if, considering several of the races are within a couple percentage points and subject to change. One, Snohomish County’s 44th, has Democrat Steve Hobbs leading Republican Dave Schmidt by just eight votes.

Both sides in Senate race ‘figure’ on a win

Patty Murray and Dino Rossi both think the numbers are on their side for a win in Washington’s close U.S. Senate race.

Republican challenger Rossi’s campaign released a statement late Tuesday night citing his favorite statistics that would make the race go his way. Among them are that Republicans usually gain a couple percent in ballots counted after election day and that he’s doing very well in Spokane County, which still expects to count large numbers of ballots.

Democratic incumbent Murray’s campaign countered just after midnight with a different analysis, noting that King County, where she was polling about 62 percent of the vote, may have as many as 350,000 votes left to count.

As morning dawns Wednesday, they are separated by about 14,000 votes, or 1 percent of those counted so far. New numbers won’t be rolling in until this afternoon. To borrow a phrase from Bette Davis, Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

To read the full analyses, go inside the blog.

Two vote totals tonight in Spokane County

Spokane County will release two rounds of vote totals tonight, one shortly after voting closes at 8 p.m., and another between 10:30 and 11 p.m.

Old election hands can remember when the county had poll site voting and would release up to a dozen updates on election night. After switching to all-mail balloting, the county has had election nights where it released one tally, and others when it released two.

Other than keeping people in suspense, what this means is that folks at the election parties will have a reason to stick around and have a new round of results to either cheer or boo.

Run for prosecutor ignores law

Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor Jim Reierson has been campaigning for write-in votes for the top prosecutor spot in Spokane County, but it’s a race he can’t legally win.

Running as a candidate who prefers the “Law and Order” Party, Reierson lost his bid for that job in the primary. Washington state has statutes and administrative law that prevent a primary loser from filing a petition for a write-in campaign in the general, and without such a petition on file, write-in votes aren’t tallied.

“The votes will not be counted,” State Elections Director Nick Handy said.

“No write-in vote for that candidate is valid,” Katie Blinn, legal adviser to the Secretary of State’s office said. Two state statutes and a section of state administrative code spell that out, she added.

Reierson recently complained that the newspaper was ignoring his write-in campaign, and the fact that he’s not supporting either candidate for that office in the general. In  a weekend e-mail, he noted the newspaper has carried stories about other write-in campaigns, including Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign for U.S. Senate in Alaska.

(Alaska doesn’t have a law that prohibits a losing primary candidate from running in the general, so Murkowski’s votes can actually be counted and credited to her in that race. For the record: Reierson isn’t supporting either incumbent Steve Tucker or challenger Frank Malone.)

Efforts were unsuccessful this week to contact Reierson to explain why he’d be running for the county’s top legal position by asking voters to cast ballots that are invalid under state law. On Monday he called briefly to return a message and ask for a delay until Tuesday morning because he was tending to a gravely ill friend. On Tuesday, he e-mailed that he preferred “to relax and think about more pleasant memories on a nice sunny day, after dropping off an overdue book at the library. I apologize for not calling you this morning, but I just did not feel like it.”

He did close, however, with this comment on his campaign: “Unlike some candidates, I feel I stand for something positive.”

So as a previous post notes, voters can write in any name they choose on a ballot. But not every name will, or even can, be counted.

 

Candidates race to finish line

Candidates for Washington’s top electoral prize, a U.S. Senate seat that could determine which party controls that chamber of Congress for the next two years, started their full final day of the campaign at dawn, on opposite sides of the state.

Republican challenger Dino Rossi had breakfast at a downtown diner, greeting the morning crowd at the counter and telling eight longtime supporters “We’re getting there.” Rossi said he tries to stop at Frank’s Diner just south of the Maple Street Bridge whenever he’s in town. After fueling up with a full breakfast, Rossi caught a plane to the Tri-Cities, where he’ll be waving signs in Kennewick mid-morning then attending a lunchtime “meet and greet” in Everett before attending the vote-watch party in Bellevue this evening.

Democratic incumbent Patty Murray was on “dawn patrol”, greeting ferry commuters at the Seattle docks at 6:30 a.m. She’s scheduled to  meet volunteers in Everett mid-morning, in Tacoma at 11:15 a.m. and attend the election night party at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.

Around Spokane, morning commuters passed candidates and their supporters waving signs at intersections in a last attempt to drum up extra votes. Washington state election officials estimate that more than half the voters who are going to vote have already sent in their ballots, but that still leaves a large bloc of voters who still have ballots that were mailed to them sitting around the home somewhere.

Idaho voters go to the polls, which are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and under a new law must show ID when getting their ballot.  Residents who have not registered, but who have lived in the state for at least 30 days and are American citizens, can register and vote by bringing a government-issued photo identification and proof of residency to their local polling place.

For information on polling locations, drop boxes, voter service centers, and phone numbers for local county elections offices, click here.

This is it: Last day to vote

Months of television commercials, weeks of campaign mailers and days of street-corner sign waving end today. The election is now out of the hands of the candidates and the consultants, and in the hands of the voters.

In Washington, which has all-mail voting in all counties except Pierce County, today is the day voters must have their ballots postmarked, or placed in a deposit box before 8 p.m. Voters who have misplaced their ballots can get a replacement at a voter service center.

Drop boxes can be found at most public libraries in Spokane County. A full list of drop boxes and voter service centers for Spokane County, and phone numbers for elections offices in surrounding counties, can be found inside the blog.

In Idaho, voters can go to the polls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to cast a ballot; under a new state law, all voters must present valid identification before receiving a ballot. A valid driver’s license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, a tribal identification card, a current student ID card issued by a state high school or a college in the state will be accepted.

Those who have been Idaho residents for at least 30 days, but have not yet registered, can register and vote at a polling place with  valid picture identification and a document that contains a valid address in the precinct.

A link to precinct polling stations in Kootenai County can be found here .

Tonight you can follow election results at spokesman.com/elections for the latest results and reaction, live updates on Twitter from Spokesman-Review and KHQ reporters, photos from the election night gatherings. And go to @spokesmanreview on Twitter for breaking news on the election and more.

Not all write-ins will — or can — count

Voters who are unhappy with their choices for a particular office and are thinking of writing in another candidate should take note: You’re free to write in any name you want in any race on the ballot if you think it will “send a message.”

But that doesn’t mean that ballots will be counted for that race, and whatever message you’re sending may not get delivered.

Write ins are only counted if there are enough to affect the outcome of the race between the candidates on the ballot, and only candidates who file a petition of write-in candidacy before election day have their ballots counted in Washington state.

Washington also has what’s often referred to as a “sore loser law” in state statute and administrative law.

Candidates who ran in the primary but didn’t advance to the general election aren’t eligible to file as write-in candidates for that office, Katie Blinn, attorney for the state Elections Office, said: “No write-in vote for that candidate is valid. The votes will not be counted.”

So if you’re thinking that you’d like to vote for that candidate who really wowwed you in the primary but didn’t make it to November, just remember: That vote won’t count. Except maybe in your heart.

The last frenetic days of the Murray-Rossi race

Washington’s U.S. Senate candidates spend Election Day eve attacking the Puget Sound from different directions.

Republican challenger Dino Rossi started south and moved north along the I-5 corridor. He began with a morning rally in Vancouver, had a noon rally in Puyallup and a Bellevue rally in the evening.

Democratic incumbent Patty Murray started north and worked her way south along the corridor. She started in Bellingham, had a noon rally in Mount Vernon, a mid afternoon rally in Everettin the morning, a late afternoon rally in Edmonds and an evening rally and concert in Seattle.

You might think that they’re finished…but you would be wrong. They’ll get up and do it again on Tuesday, with more stops, including a Spokane visit by Rossi.

Murray  will be greeting ferry commuters at the Seattle Docks before dawn Tuesday, then meet volunteers in Everett mid morning with another meeting in Tacoma at 11:15 a.m. and attend the election night party at the Westin Hotel in Seattle Tuesday evening.

Rossi has a “meet and greet” at 7 a.m. in Spokane at Frank’s Diner, 1516 W. 2nd Ave. He’ll be waving signs at an intersection in Kennewick at 9:30 a.m., and meeting supporters in Everett around 12:30 p.m., then attend the election night party in Bellevue.

Today’s fun video: That was the campaigns that were

It’s been a long road to election day, and there have been some ground breaking and mind boggling videos.

One site rates the top 13 videos of the political season, from Jimmy McMillan’s “The Rent is Too Damn High” speech to Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m not a witch, I’m you” commercial to a wolf in sheep’s clothing in California. None of them are from Washington or Idaho, although a few of them have shown up on local blogs. To see the best/worst videos, click here.

What do you consider rich?

The Washington Poll, which is discussed in greater detail elsewhere on the website, had a question that says a lot about all of us. When 500 voters were asked how they define “rich,” they had a wide range of answers.

For 3 percent, rich could be less than $100,000.
For 16 percent, it was $100,000 to $199,999.
For 22 percent, it was $200,000 to $299,999.
For 10 percent it was $300,000 to $499,999.
For 23 percent it was $500,000 to $1 million.
For 15 percent it was more than $1 million.

The rest either didn’t know, or wouldn’t answer.

Professor Matt Barreto of the University of Washington said rich is a relative concept. People rarely consider themselves rich and often feel strapped regardless of their income because expenses rise to meet (or exceed) income. It’s almost always someone else who makes more than they do.

So if you were asked, what would you say should be considered “rich”?

Murray, Rossi in Spokane Saturday

Washington’s U.S. Senate race comes to Spokane Saturday as both Patty Murray and Dino Rossi are scheduled to make stops on their final campaign swings through the state.

Murray, the Democratic incumbent, has a get out the vote bus tour across the state that starts in Spokane at 8 a.m. at Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean (also known as Toad Hall, that’s the site where Democrats will be gathering in advance of the “Rally to Restore Sanity” at Riverfront Park at noon, to watch the Washington, D.C., version.) She also has a 12:30 p.m. rally at Walla Walla Community College’s Center for Enology and Viticulture; a 3 p.m. rally in the Tri-Cities at the Highlands Grange Hall, 1500 S. Union St. in Kennewick; a 6 p.m. rally in Yakima at Essencia Artisan Bakery & Chocolaterie,  4 N. 3rd St.

Rossi, the Republican challenger, stops four places in Eastern Washington, starting with a 1:30 p.m. rally at the Quality Inn, 110 E. 4th Ave. He’ll also be in Colville at 4 p.m. at Stephani’s Oak Street Grill, 157 N. Oak St.; in Republic at 6:15 p.m. at Diamond K Guest Ranch, 15661 S. Highway 21; in Omak at 8 p.m. at Koala St. Grill, 914 Koala.

Poll roundup in the Senate race

Three polls of Washington’s U.S. Senate race released in the last 24 hours have different numbers, but actually conclude the same thing: The race is very close.

Rasmussen Research late Thursday had the race at 47 percent Dino Rossi, 46 percent Patty Murray. It’s a survey of 750 voters, has a margin of error of 4 percent. So in other words, it’s tied, although Rasmussen notes that Murray was up 49-46 in a similar poll last week.

Also on Thursday, SurveyUSA had the race in an actual tie at 47 all in a poll it did for KingTV.  It’s a survey of 678 voters, with a margin of 3.8 percent.

At noon today, the Washington Poll, conducted by the University of Washington, had two figures from two sets of 500 voter surveys. For all voters, they  have the race at 49 percent Murray 45 percent Rossi; among likely voters, they have it at 51 percent Murray, 45 percent Rossi. Their margin of error is 4.3 percent for each of the 500-person surveys.

More on the Washington Poll results, which asked about issues important to voters, later on Spin Control and Sunday morning in The Spokesman-Review.

When mailing your ballot? Remember the stamp

Hundreds of thousands of ballots in Washington state are going to be mailed in the next four days.

Here are a few reminders:

Sign the outer envelope. If you live in a home with more than one voter, be sure you are signing your envelope, because the signature has to match the name on the envelope.

Put a 44-cent stamp on the envelope. And before you start complaining about this as an unfair cost of democracy, please note that in Idaho, mailing in a ballot cost 61 cents…there’s was bigger.

Get it postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday. That suggests that you should not just toss it in a pickup box at 7:59 p.m. If you’re waiting until Tuesday, take it to a post office, go inside and have them postmark it. Ofr save yourself 44 cents and take it to a drop-off box that your county elections office has set up in strategic spots around your county. In Spokane County, they’re in all public libraries. Several “Voter Service Centers” will also be open on Election Day. We’ll have a list on Tuesday for those who have waited that long.

PDC violations could void legislative primary

A Democratic political strategist active in shadowy independent ads in a Spokane legislative campaign faces court sanctions for campaign violations in an Everett primary race.

Lisa MacLean’s tactics to hide who was contributing to efforts to sway the 38th District state Senate primary were so “reprehensible” that election may have to be overturned, the Public Disclosure Commission said Thursday. It voted 3-0 to refer the case to Attorney General Rob McKenna.

MacLean and her firm Moxie Media have set up a series of political committees this year to funnel money from unions, abortion rights groups and trial lawyers into hard-to-track independent campaigns all over the state, including two committees that attacked GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner this month.

Read more  inside the blog….

PDC asks AG to take Dem strategist to court

OLYMPIA — The state Public Disclosure Commission voted today to ask Attorney General Rob McKenna to seek civil penalties prosecute a liberal political strategist for concealing the sources of money that helped defeat a Democratic incumbent in the August primary. The violations are so severe, the board said, the primary could be overtuned and the election redone.

The PDC voted 3-0 to reject an offered settlement of $30,000 from Lisa MacLean for disclosure violations in the campaign against state Sen. Jean Berkey of Everett. MacLean helped set up political action committees that concealed that labor unions were helping to fund a Republican challenger as well as a Democratic opponent to Berkey in the primary.

MacLean’s firm, Moxie Media, helped set up Progress PAC and Stand Up For Citizens PAC, which collected money from labor unions to support Democrat Nick Harper over Berkey, whom the unions opposed because of votes against key legislation in the last session. Moxie also set up two other groups, Conservative PAC and Cut Taxes PAC, which sponsored mailer ads and robocalls in support of Republican Rod Rieger. Pre-election reports didn’t disclose the source of the money for the pro-Rieger ads.

Harper finished first in the election and Rieger finished second, 124 votes ahead of Berkey.

A PDC investigation showed MacLean deliberately obscured the source of the money for the independent campaign helping Rieger. Contributions that should have been revealed before the election weren’t disclosed until almost a month after the election. MacLean kept her name off the ads, also, using the name of another member of the firm “because he has a lower profile,” the PDC staff reported. She created secondary PACs to move money around, and told donors it was unlikely they’d be linked to it before the election.

MacLean was willing to settle the complaint for $30,000 but the PDC board said the violations were, in the words of Commissioner Jane Noland “reprehensible.” They turned the case over to the attorney general under a statute that allows for a court to overturn an election if it finds violations by political committees may have effected the outcome. It also allows for fines of $10,000 for each violation of state campaign laws, and treble punitive damages if a judge determines they were intentional.

So why should readers in Spokane care about all this? Because MacLean and her company, Moxie Media, have been busy in the 6th District Senate race, too. More on that later, and in Friday’s Spokesman-Review.

Lots of help for undecided voters

Voters who need a bit more information about a candidate or an issue before marking their ballot need not despair – or, worse yet, rely on the latest negative commercial or attack mailer they’ve seen.

Voter information is actually in plentiful supply for voters with access to the Internet. There are also a couple of old standbys for folks who like to hold paper in their hands and read ink on pages.

One is — are you ready for the shameless plug? — The Spokesman-Review Voter’s Guide, which appeared in the Oct. 12 newspaper. The newspaper still has copies of that edition available at its circulation counters in downtown Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

The other is the state Voter’s Pamphlet, which was mailed to voter households early this month. Even if you didn’t keep your copy, the public libraries have a supply; check with the reference desk.

Both of those are available online as well.  The newspaper’s online voter’s guide includes recent stories on many of the campaigns. The online version of state voter’s pamphlet can be found here. To zero in on local races or ballot measures, you may have to go to a county elections website; for Spokane County, the voter’s guide can be found here.

Looking for the Idaho Voter’s Pamphlet? It can be found here.

Other groups have compiled different voter guides, with varying degrees of success.

Ballotpedia, which calls itself an interactive almanac of state politics, is a somewhat uneven compilation of state races and state measures. Clicking on the map on its home page will take you to Washington or Idaho; the Washington page provides links to information on the legislative races and the statewide initiatives, but not the congressional races. The Idaho page doesn’t offer direct links to the statewide and legislative races. They exist on the site, but are difficult to find.

Imagine Election, a nonpartisan group, offers an easy-to-use site for information on federal and state candidates, and statewide initiatives. Entering a ZIP code brings up the names of candidates, and it correctly flags legislative districts that are in only part of that ZIP code. It’s not very good at determining which district you live in, based on your address. For statewide initiatives, it links to Ballotpedia.

VoteEasy, new feature from Project VoteSmart offers assistance in choosing between U.S. Senate and House candidates. It has 12 topics for you to select a position, then tells which candidates are closest to you on that issue. It’s fun, but limited: for crime, the only question involves capital punishment; for the economy, the only choice is whether federal funds should be used as stimulus. VoteSmart also has its political courage site for candidates, but so few Washington candidates of either party take the survey it’s not much help.

VoterMind, a website that debuted Wednesday, asks participants their stands on a series of issues, then picks the candidate that best matches those stands. But its choice of candidates is limited: for Washington, it’s just the U.S. Senate race; in Idaho, the U.S. Senate and governor’s races. Information about the candidates it does have is thin.

Facebook offers an app to its members called MyBallot, that will link you to a page with brief descriptions and links for the U.S. Senate candidates and the state ballot measures. The ballot measures lines seem to be written by someone with a decidedly liberal outlook and most links weren’t working Wednesday. The one that was sent viewers to Protect Washington, a group supporting the state income tax and school energy bond measures, but opposing the rest. A possible plus, lets you see how others on Facebook are voting; a possible minus, it can let them see how you’re voting.

The League of Women Voters recently debuted VOTE411.org, which it bills as “one-stop-shopping for voter information. But some of the information about Washington, such as the in-person registration deadline, is wrong, and entering your address into the On Your Ballot page will tell you what congressional or legislative district you’re in, but not who’s running for those seats on your ballot. For that, they give you a link to the Washington Secretary of State.

Ballot stats: Turn-in jumps on Tuesday

Here’s something for numbers geeks and political wonks to debate in discussing whether voter turnout (or turn-in) in Spokane County may be trending up. Tuesday’s ballot count is the highest so far in this election.

As mentioned last week, the Tuesday after ballots go out is traditionally the heaviest day for ballots arriving in the county Elections Office until Election Day. That trend holds pretty steady in elections through 2006, and the theory is that voters who know who they want to cast a ballot for (or against) mark ‘em and mail ‘em right away. The rest of us delay for a number of reasons: We want to study the voters guide to figure out the difference between the two “get the state out of the liquor business” initiatives; we can’t decide whether to write-in a drinking buddy’s name for an uncontested race; we’re waiting to see which Murray v. Rossi ad ticks us off most.

This year, however, today’s count of 15,707 ballots was higher than last Tuesday’s count of 12,104.

While that didn’t happen in 2006, the last time there was a mid-term election, Elections Supervisor Mike McLaughlin did note there was a surge four years ago in the combined ballots from the first Monday and Tuesday (20,873)  compared to the combined ballots of the second Monday and Tuesday (23,876). (The first two days of the week can be significant because voters may be doing their research on the weekends and mailing or dropping off ballots right after that. Tuesday figures include the ballots picked up at drop boxes on Monday.)

This year the surge is bigger, up from 18,259 ballots on Monday and Tuesday last week to 25,575 this week.

This could be a result of both parties urging their members to mark their ballots and send them in as soon as possible. Or it may be a move by exhausted voters to send off a ballot so they will be spared more robocalls and mailers targeted at slackers who haven’t yet voted. (The campaigns get lists, you know.)

Raw numbers are one thing, percentages are something different, however. The total number of ballots received at this point in the two elections is within a few hundred. But there are about 25,000 more voters now, thanks in part to the big voter registration drives of 2008.

At this point in the 2006 election, 28.4 percent of the voters had cast ballots; final turnout was 68 percent. Thus far in 2010, 25.4 percent of the voters have cast ballots, and extrapolating a similar trend would have turnout in the range of about 61 percent.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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