Election 2020 | KNKX

Election 2020

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King County will no longer be electing its sheriff. Voters approved a charter amendment that directs the county to appoint its top law enforcement officer. The County Council is planning how to go about making the change.

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Pioneer Square on Wednesday night to call for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. They also stressed the need to "protect every person" for truly equitable elections in the future.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Seattle on Wednesday night, calling for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. But they stressed that their work does not end with the election.

Leaders of the rally in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, titled “Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person,” tried to channel concern over the election into local causes they’ve been advocating for years. They made the argument that every vote cannot truly count if some people are disenfranchised or killed.

Tarra Simmons, an attorney who previously served time in prison, is on track to become the first formerly incarcerated person to serve in the state Legislature as a representative in the 23rd District.
Courtesy of Tarra Simmons

This week’s general election appears to be moving the needle on diversity in Washington state.

Bartender Sam Schilke watches election results on television at a bar and grill Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Portland, Ore.
Paula Bronstein / The Associated Press

The predictions turned out to be true — that we would not know the result of the presidential contest on Election Night, and that there would be false claims in the meantime.

Last night, President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed victory, with no basis for doing so. At the time of his remarks from the East Room of the White House, neither candidate was close to the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.

To understand the national picture, we turn to a voice right here in the Northwest.

Pierce County election workers sort through ballots at the election center in Tacoma last month.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s Election Day 2020, arguably one of the most anticipated elections in recent memory. 

Early voting numbers indicate Washington state is likely to shatter records for turnout, young voters appear to be more engaged than ever, and election officials have been working relentlessly to assure voters that their ballots will be safely tallied

There’s a lot to cover. KNKX Public Radio has been talking with representatives from political parties, grassroots organizers, current and former candidates, and more to bring you comprehensive coverage of key races across the region. 

And now, we’re bringing you results from those races.

In this file photo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is seen campaigning as Democratic presidential candidate, during a Columbia Climate Strike rally at Columbia University on Friday March 15, 2019, in New York City.
Bebeto Matthews / The Associated Press (file)

Environmental groups have become some of the biggest spenders in U.S. politics this election. Washington state is no exception.

The Washington Conservation Voters political action committee (WCV PAC) has poured some $425,000 into about 10 state legislative races. In each case, fossil fuel interests have funded campaigns on the other side.

Sameth Mell is project director with Partners in Change, a division of the Equity in Education Coalition. He organizes around pandemic issues in King County.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Throughout the pandemic, local grassroots organizations have stepped up to help people in need, by getting people things like food, child care or rental assistance. They’re often trying to fill the gaps left by federal and local governments. 

This work likely will be impacted by the outcome of Tuesday's election.

From left to right: Yến Huỳnh, Ashley Jackson, Sonj Basha, Rachel Alger, Ivana Trottman, Rachel Morowitz, Abriel Johnny, Sharlett Mena, Hannah Sabio Howell, Bre Weider, Akua Asare-Konadu, Yasmin Trudeau, Graciela Nuñez Pargas, Lucy Aragón Noriega.
Karina Matias / Karinamatias.com

Sharlett Mena’s campaign for Washington’s 29th Legislative District may have ended after the August primary. But the driving force behind why she ran in the first place is continuing into Tuesday’s general election. 

Mena launched the #VoteAsYouAre project to center voices of people who she says have been historically overlooked or made invisible in government. It’s a movement of young women and non-binary people who are working to empower others with similar lived experience — especially within millennial and Generation Z populations — to use their voting power. 

Temple of Justice in Olympia
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This year, Washington voters have a say in who they'd like to see on the state Supreme Court. The two justices most recently appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee drew challengers in this election. Two incumbents are running unopposed.

Hugh Spitzer teaches state and federal constitutional law at the University of Washington. He also has the perspective of having run for a seat on the court in 1998. He spoke with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about who is on the court, why it matters, and how he thinks about this choice.

This combination of  photos taken Sept. 25, 2020, shows state Rep. Beth Doglio, left, and former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. Both are Democrats, facing off in the race for the next representative of Washington's 10th Congressional District.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Two Democrats are vying to fill the open seat in Washington’s 10th Congressional District. State representative Beth Doglio is running against former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

The race has been called a microcosm of the recent split in the Democratic Party between establishment liberals and left-leaning progressives. One issue that clearly displays their differences is how they would address climate change.  

Gracie Anderson, a senior at Pacific Lutheran University, testified in support of the bill requiring comprehensive sexual health education to be taught in public schools.
Courtesy of TVW

The Nov. 3 election in Washington includes a referendum on a hot-button issue — whether the state should require sex education to be taught in public schools.

KNKX youth and education reporter Ashley Gross spoke with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about Referendum 90 and what opponents and supporters have to say.

When civic leaders wanted to tear down Pike Place Market in the 1970s, people rallied to save it. Pictured here is a demonstration from 1971.
MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.54096.1, photo by Tom Brownell

Sometimes in the heat of an election, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. But there are lessons to be learned from taking a step back and putting it in context.

An online exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry, or MOHAI, in Seattle does that. It looks at how democracy has played out in Washington state over the years, from how we cast our ballots to our use of the initiative process to our history of protesting.

A postmarked vote-by-mail ballot is shown at the King County election headquarters in Renton, Wash., Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Over the past few years, Washington Democrats seem to have solidified their power in the state. They have a majority in both legislative chambers. They make up most of our Congressional delegation. And they hold most statewide offices.

That puts local Republicans in a tough position going into this year's elections.

B.C. New Democratic Party Leader and Premier John Horgan is pictured during the last election campaign in May 2017 in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
Craig McCulloch / KNKX

British Columbia Premier John Horgan has been re-elected with a majority government.

The election is the largest victory ever for the left-leaning New Democratic Party of B.C. and Horgan. Like the rest of Canada, British Columbia follows the Westminster Parliamentary system, where the party with the most seats forms government and their leader becomes premier.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Democratic challenger Carolyn Long are vying to represent Washington's 3rd Congressional District in Southwest Washington. The race is seen as "flippable."
Don Ryan / Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press (file)

It’s the most expensive race in Washington’s 2020 election. In Washington’s 3rd Congressional District in Southwest Washington, Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler is fighting for a sixth term against second-time Democrat challenger Carolyn Long.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Adds comments from a press conference held by Maia Espinoza in which she addressed how she'd pay for stipends to families during remote learning.  

The race for state superintendent of public instruction comes at a critical time for the state’s 1.1 million schoolchildren, most of whom are learning from home right now due to the pandemic. The incumbent, Chris Reykdal, and his challenger, Maia Espinoza, have different approaches to pandemic-era schooling.

Donna Stath, who works in the Pierce County Auditor's office, helps voters drop off ballots at a drop box in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Donna Stath wears a blue mesh vest with the word “ELECTIONS” on it, as she stands next to a Pierce County ballot drop box. She’s helping voters as they drop off their ballots.

A car pulls up, a window rolls down, a hand reaches out with a burgundy and white envelope.

“Hello! Thank you!” Stath says, taking the envelope from the voter and putting it in a slot just a few inches away. Not a huge distance — the voter watches as Stath puts the ballot in the slot — but it keeps the cars moving.

The West Seattle Bridge is seen looking east April 15, 2020, following an emergency closure several weeks earlier.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's decision on whether to replace or repair the West Seattle Bridge will be delayed until after the election, due to uncertainty over federal funding after the Trump administration declared the city an "anarchist jurisdiction."

Nurses put on PPE outside Harborview on April 2, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press


A major expansion of Harborview Medical Center is on the ballot in King County. It’s listed as King County Proposition 1. If approved, the $1.7 billion, 20-year bond would pay for a new 10-story medical tower along with upgrades to emergency and behavioral health facilities, as well as earthquake proofing.

Jennifer Wing / knkx

Seattle voters are considering a sales tax to fund bus services and additional transit-related programs. Proposition 1 authorizes a 0.15 percent sales tax. That's equivalent to 15 cents per every $100 spent.

The measure would replace a 0.1 percent sales tax and $60 car tab fee voters approved in 2014 that pays for bus services, free ORCA cards for high school students and low income seniors, and other programs. Proposition 1 only includes a sales tax and would not renew the car tab fee.

Alicia Ing graduated from Renton High School as part of the class of 2020 and is studying at the University of Washington. She's getting ready to vote in her first presidential election.
Adrian Florez / KNKX

“I went into high school the same year that Donald Trump was elected president, so it kind of bookended my high school experience.”

Alicia Ing graduated from Renton High School as part of the class of 2020 and is studying at the University of Washington. Now, four years after that election, Alicia is 18 years old and getting ready to vote in her first presidential election.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

When was the last time you had to put your official signature on something? These days, we rarely have to use it. We aren't writing many checks and even when we have to sign for something, it's on a digital device where a squiggly line will suffice.

Maybe that explains why two-thirds of ballots rejected in Washington state, which is an all mail-in state, are because the signature doesn't match the one election officials have on file. The other third are because ballots were postmarked after the deadline.

As President Donald Trump intensifies his attacks on the security of vote-by-mail, county auditors and state election officials sought Friday to reassure voters the state of Washington is well prepared to pull off the 2020 vote-by-mail election.

However, those reassurances were also tempered by ongoing concerns about the United States Postal Service’s capacity to deliver and process ballots in a timely manner.

In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, vote-by-mail ballots are shown in U.S. Postal service sorting trays the King County Elections headquarters in Renton.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

A postcard from the U.S. Postal Service appearing in mailboxes across the country is causing some confusion among voters in Washington state.

The USPS mailing urges people to request their mail-in ballot at least 15 days before Election Day. But in Washington state, ballots are automatically mailed to registered voters at least 18 days before the election.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., stands on stage with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden after she spoke during the third day of the Democratic National Convention, Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press

Joe Biden is formally accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president on Thursday. NPR reporters are providing live analysis of his remarks.

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Caroline Amenabar / NPR

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is speaking Thursday night.

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An election worker sorts ballots at the Pierce County Election Center in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's primary election day, and KNKX Public Radio has a roundup of some key local, state and federal races. Catch up on past coverage and view the latest results. (Last updated Aug. 7, 4:50 p.m.)  

Mailed-in ballots await counting at the Pierce County election office in Tacoma, ahead of Washington state's March 2020 presidential primary.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during an election year has renewed a nationwide conversation about mail-in voting.

A voter drops a ballot into a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

UPDATE 11 p.m., Tuesday: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were virtually tied Tuesday night in Washington's Democratic presidential primary, separated by less than one percentage point.

Sanders barely led Biden, 32.7 percent to 32.5 percent, in early returns. More than 1.5 million votes have been counted so far. 

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