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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2013 Washington elections

GMO labeling group faces legal action for campaign violations

OLYMPIA — The attorney general will investigate possible legal action against an Iowa group that spent nearly $300,000 on last year's food labeling initiative but didn't report its donors until after the election.

The state Public Disclosure Commission referred a case against Food Democracy Action to the attorney general's office for possible legal action after members said the PDC doesn't have the authority to issue a stiff enough fine. The commission is limited to a fine of $10,000.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is already suing Grocery Manufacturers Association, a group opposed to the initiative, for failing to follow state campaign disclosure laws.

Food Democracy Action, described by its attorney Greg Wong as a small non-profit based in Iowa, began raising money in July to support Initiative 522, a measure that would require most processed foods in Washington that contain genetically modified foods to note that on their label. Eventually it formed a political action committee for Washington and over the next five months, it spent more than $295,000 to support I-522. 

But it didn't register with the PDC until Oct. 25, and didn't file its first lists of contributors until Nov. 22, some two weeks after the election. Its expenditure reports weren't filed until Jan. 15. It faces multiple violations of failing to meet deadlines for reporting contributions and expenditures from July through January.

The group has limited staff and no experience with Washington election laws, Wong said. The yes campaign for I-522 spent some $8 million, and Food Democracy Action's contributions were a small percentage of that, he added.

But the contributions still amount to “very large dollars,” commission attorney Linda Dalton said before commissioners voted unanimously to send the complaint to the attorney general.

Sunday Spin2: New definition of victory?

In elections, victory is usually well-defined. You got the most votes. Period.

So it was a bit odd Thursday to get a post-election email from initiative guru Tim Eyman describing the results of the election as “7 measures, 7 votes, 7 victories”. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Ignore the undervotes at your peril

Spokane County’s effort to raise property taxes failed on Tuesday, but it could have won. John Smith could have beat Brian Dansel in Northeast Washington’s 7th Legislative District, Linda Thompson could have beat Rod Higgins for a seat on the Spokane Valley City Council and all three losers in the contested Liberty Lake council races could have been winners.

All of this could have happened without any special tricks to get more voters in key precincts to the polls. The votes were there, the campaigns just didn’t close the deal…

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Mapping the Vote: Latest on County Prop 1

Gap got a bit wider on Spokane County Proposition 1 in Wednesday vote count, with 44,485 Yes and 46,758 No.

 Here's the latest precinct-by-precinct breakdown. For a closer look, click on the document below.


Documents:

Mapping the Vote: NW City Council race

This map shows why Candace Mumm leads Michael Cannon in the race for the open seat in Spokane's Northwest City Council District. She won more precincts than he did, some of them with bigger margins.

For a more detailed look at the map, click on the document below.


Documents:

Mapping the Vote: Spo Co. Prop 1 revised

Here's a revised map of the breakdown of the precinct vote for Spokane County Proposition 1, a tax measure to buy property near Fairchild Air Force Base, which shows the proposal did well in some parts of the cities of Cheney, Deer Park, Spokane and Spokane Valley, but poorly in many of the suburbs and Airway Heights

 

For a more detailed look at the map, click on the document link below.


Documents:

Tax advisory votes: How much effect?

Voters seeking extensive information from the usual sources on five statewide advisory measures before casting their ballots may be out of luck.

There are no high-powered campaigns for or against Advisory Votes 3 through 7. No statements pro or con in the state Voters Pamphlet. No web sites with videos or lists of endorsers…

 

To find out more about the tax advisory votes, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

1 in 5 Spokane ballots in

About one of every five Spokane voters has returned a ballot for Tuesday's election.

The Spokane County Elections Office said it has slightly more than 59,000 ballots as of this morning's count, both from mail delivery and collections at the drop boxes around the county. That's about 21 percent of the more than 282,000 mailed out last month.

 In the City of Spokane, the contested races in council districts 2 and 3 are running slightly ahead of that average, while the District 1, where there's  no contested council race, is not surprisingly running behind average.

Many of the smaller towns are running around the county are running significantly ahead of the county's average turn-in rate. The City of Spokane Valley is a bit behind, at 18.6 percent.

Ballots that are mailed in must be postmarked by Tuesday. They can also be deposited in drop boxes at public libraries and other key locations around the county before 8 p.m. Tuesday. A list of drop box locations can be found inside the blog.

 

 

Last call to register to vote

Today is the last day for Washington residents who aren't registered to vote to do something to fix that if they want to cast a ballot in next week's general election.

The easy way to register, online or by mail, closed weeks ago. But Washington law allows a backup for the true procrastinators. You can go to your local county elections office in person and sign up. Don't know where your county elections office is? Check the map here. Be sure you don't show up after they close, because some counties have cut back the hours that their offices stay open as a result of budget cuts.

The normal restrictions apply: You must be at least 18 by next Tuesday. An American citizen and a resident of Washington state. You can't have had your voting rights revoked and not restored for some misdeed. More details can be found here.

If you're not registered, you'll miss the opportunity to vote in one of those hot Spokane City Council races, or all the Valley contests, or that special state Senate election in the 7th Legislative District, or to weigh in on the state wide ballot “food fight” over the labeling of genetically modified foods.

And you wouldn't want to do that, would you?

GMO labeling measure losing steam?

The onslaught of commercials castigating Initiative 522, the genetically engineered food labeling measure on the November ballot, may be taking their toll.

A new survey by The Elway Poll shows support for I-522 has dropped precipitously in the last month. In September, about two-thirds of voters surveyed said they supported the measure, which requires many foods bought at the store to carry labels if they have genetically modified ingredients. Only about one voter in five opposed it.

In the latest poll, that support is down to 46 percent, and opposition up to 42 percent. With the poll's margin of error at 5 percent, that's a statistical tie. More concerning for supporters could be that it has dipped below 50 percent support, because undecided voters tend to vote No if they remain undecided at the point they must cast their ballots.

The Seattle Times broke down the Elway Poll numbers this week. King TV had similar results from a separate poll.

The latest Public Disclosure Commission reports show the No campaign, funded in large part by Monsanto, DuPont and large food and beverage companies contributing to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have spent about $13.5 million. The Yes campaign, which has collected large amounts from some natural food and cosmetic product companies, but also has hundreds of small donations from Washington and around the country, has spent about $5.4 million.

  
  

AP: Ferguson suing anti GMO labeling donor

Attorney General Bob Ferguson held a press conference this morning to announce a lawsuit against a group that has given some $7 million to the campaign against Initiative 522. Here's an updated report from Mike Baker of the Associated Press:

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington’s attorney general accused a food industry group Wednesday of violating state campaign finance laws for how it collected and spent more than $7 million to oppose a food labeling initiative…

 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

I-522 fight over pet food

The opening salvo in the battle over the proposal to label genetically modified foods includes ammunition that hit the mark last year in California: Food you buy for Rover would have to be labeled if it contains those products, recent commercials for opponents say, but steaks you throw on the grill would not.

Wrong on both counts, say supporters of Initiative 522. Pet food isn't covered by the initiative, but genetically modified meats, would have to be labeled – if they ever reach the local supermarket.

Each campaign can produce legal theories of the state’s complicated initiative case law to support their claims. The Yes campaign has mounted a response ad which the No campaign is actively rebutting.

The average voter might wonder whether it’s worth fighting about…

 

To continue reading this post, see a version of an ad, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

7th Dist. Senate follow up: The map

The Secretary of State's office has a map of Tuesday's results in the 7th District Senate race that shows John Smith on top in four counties and Brian Dansel on top in one.

That one, Ferry County, which is Dansel's home county. So one would expect him to run strongest there. But the bad news for Dansel was, that's also the least populous county in the district.

It's true that Spin Control creates precinct maps of election results most days after an election. We're passing this time because of the small number of races, the odd shape of  coupled with the fact that in most of them, the person in first place finished in first in most of the precincts in the district.

Spokane Council 2: Snyder v. Ahern

South Spokane voters will pick between two familiar candidates for the Second District council seat this fall.

Incumbent Jon Snyder will face former State Rep. John Ahern in the general election.

Snyder finished Tuesday night's count with nearly 56 percent of the votes; Ahern had just over 24 percent. Political newcomer LaVerne Biel finished third with about 19 percent.

Smith v. Dansel for the 7th Dist. Senate seat

Appointed State Sen. John Smith will face Ferry County Commissioner Brian Dansel for the rights to fill northeast Washington’s 7th District Senate seat in next year’s legislative session.
  

Smith easily finished first in the off-year primary and at the end of ballot counting Tuesday night had more than half the votes cast in the three-way race. He said Tuesday night the general election campaign will likely focus on the economy in the hard-hit district.
  

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Spokane Council Dist. 3 Mumm v. Cannon

Candace Mumm will face Michael Cannon this fall in the race for the open council seat in Northwest Spokane's 3rd District.

In Tuesday night's count, Mumm was easily in first place with 56 percent of the vote. Cannon was solidly in second, with 27 percent of the vote. Curt Fackler had 10 percent and Kelly Cruz 6 percent.

90 percent of ballots could be counted tonight

Spokane County could count as much as 90 percent of the ballots for the primary tonight.

Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said county elections staff have processed and readied for tabulation all ballots received by this morning. That leaves only the ballots being placed in the drop boxes today and those that come in the mail Wednesday and beyond.

Turnout is light, but mail delivery on the day after the election is usually heavy for ballots.

As of this morning, the county had received 36,564 ballots out of the 194,626 mailed out, or just under 19 percent.

McLaughlin estimated the final turnout will be around 40,000.

They'll release a single tally tonight just after 8 p.m., and another on Wednesday around 5 p.m.

If you still have your ballot and plan to vote, see the post below.

Time running out to vote in primary

Tuesday is the last day to turn in a ballot for the primary election.

For most Eastern Washington voters, it's a short ballot. One or two races for city council seat, a fire district or school board. The names might not be household words. The campaign may have slipped by unnoticed.

The good  news in all this: Getting up to speed on the primary choices won't take very long. You could tap into Primary Section of The Spokesman-Review's Election Center. Spokane County voters can get some candidate-provided info at the county's Online Voters Guide.

Remember, Washington votes by mail. Ballots were sent out about three weeks ago, so it may be in that stack of unopened bills and coupons on a desk or counter somewhere.

Once the ballot is marked, voters have two options.

Seal it in the envelope, sign it, put a stamp on it and mail it so that it's postmarked before 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Hint: dropping in a mail box or at a closed post office at 7:59 p.m. isn't going to cut it. For those waiting until the last day, it's a good idea to take it into the post office, had it to a postal clerk and ask to have it postmarked.)

Or seal it, sign it and deposit it in a ballot drop box before 8 p.m. Tuesday. (Dropping it off at 7:59 p.m. Tuesday actually will work for this option. But don't push your luck because election workers are usually there sharply at 8 p.m. to pick up the ballots.)

All public libraries in Spokane County have drop boxes, although the drop boxes at Medical Lake and Cheney aren't open for the primary, because voters in those areas have no primary ballots to cast. (Editor's note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly listed an incorrect library that wasn't open for ballots.) For a list of addresses for the Spokane County drop boxes, go inside the blog.

For voters in other counties, check with the elections office for the nearest drop box.

Primary turnout low one week out

Of the nearly 200,000 ballots Spokane County sent to voters this month, only about one in eight has come back in with one week left in the primary election for many local offices.

Admittedly the primary ballot in many areas is short. Only two of the City of Spokane's three council districts has a contested seat, and only one City of Spokane Valley council race is on that ballot.

The 7th Legislative District has a three-way race for the state Senate seat that was filled by an appointment early this year when long-time legislator Bob Morton retired mid-term. All three are Republicans, but under the state's election laws, the top two vote-getters move on to the general election.

While a ballot with few races often doesn't generate much excitement, on the plus side it is relatively quick to fill out, sign and mail in, or deposit at an assigned drop box.

In Spokane County, there's a drop box at all public libraries except — for this election only — the Cheney and Liberty Lake libraries. There's also one in the Spokane Transit Authority center in downtown Spokane. For information on drop boxes in other counties, click here.

For a list of addresses for Spokane County drop boxes, go inside the blog.

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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.

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