Hella Bus Blog
- Voter’s Pamphlet. The pros: It’s sent to my door, both State and County versions are available online, and has everything covered. The cons: It’s lengthy, and allows candidates, initiatives, and ballot measures to describe things in their own words, how can that possibly be objective?
- The Municipal League. The pros: objective grading system of everything from candidates to ballot measures, all available online. Full disclaimer: I have multiple friends on their board, and have volunteered with the candidate evaluation process in the past before I became a citizen, so have some vague familiarity and recollection. Cons: It’s yet another set of information I have to sludge through.
- Blogs and the Media. The pros: Up-to-date coverage with multiple perspectives on multiple platforms that I can read and catch up on my many devices. The cons: As a journalism graduate, I’ve been ingrained with a lot of idealism about objectivity, but we all know that most media outlets have political agendas, and even the most objective ones tend to lean a little to the left or right. Many people pointed me to The Stranger’s Cheat Sheet as a Seattleite and because of my age, though it’s definitely not objective (and, to it's credit, very openly so). Others mentioned The Atlantic, and Publicola which, while certainly not without biases, strive for a more objective and centrist voice.
- Other resources: family, friends, mentors, community members, my Facebook and Twitter feed. Pros: I trust, and have real rapport and relationships with them. Cons: They’re human and come with their own set of biases and beliefs, which may nullify the quest of getting objective informants.
The no on I-1185 campaign has a video up explaining their view of a 2/3rds majority requirement to raise revenue.
I'm fond of these sped-up animation talks, probably because I have absolutely no artistic skill myself.
My one critique of their message is that they only use the word taxes, not revenue. Tim Eyman's 2/3rds initiatives don't just prevent legislators from raising taxes, they also prevents us from closing tax loopholes to raise revenue. Which is why oil and alcohol companies overwhelmingly fund them.
The initiative is going to pass regardless. Which instead means all eyes should be on the Supreme Court and the Lieutenant Governor's races.
This is installment #2 of a new series by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person. Check our part 1 here.
Read & Research
This next step is perhaps the most crucial in the journey of voting and good citizenship: reading and researching about the issues and the candidates.
Since you heard from me last, I survived Hurricane Sandy and the many trains, planes, and automobiles as a part of a LA-NYC-Boston-Detroit-Seattle extravaganza. I’m also in between deadlines for community and professional commitments, and of course, am completely behind on finding that perfect poem to read during the ceremony at my friend’s destination-wedding next week. I get it, we’re busy.
Young people are caught between our balancing ambition, reality, budgetary and time constraints, being there for our family and friends, answering a deep desire to make a difference in shaping our local and global communities, and seeking strategic ways to get into that not-so-secret Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show. How do we fit voting into this equation?
It’s less than a week until Election Day (Nov. 6), and a second Voters’ Pamphlet greeted me when I opened my neglected mailbox after my week away. They call this one, the King County Local Voters’ Pamphlet, apparently it’s different than the State of Washington Voters’ Pamphlet I’d received the week prior. Most of my more experienced-voter friends have already posted humble-brag Facebook photos of their completed ballot, with snapshots of their choice political candidates and ballot measures. With my trip, and the limited time on my hands with all the things I’m balancing, I’m a bit behind. I also don’t want others’ biases to affect my own voting opinion. Voting is a new freedom of mine, as I’d mentioned extensively in my first post, I don’t want to mess it up by being easily influenced. So where do I find unbiased information?
It's a much more nuanced and difficult question than I’d imagined. In order to choose my candidates and be informed about these ballot measures, I have very finite options to get objective information, most people merely scoffed and laughed at me when I’d asked for unbiased voters’ resources:
So what do I do and whom do I trust for my research and information? My approach is going to be a combination of the aforementioned, browsing through the voters’ pamphlets, checking out what the Muni League has to say, paying attention to what’s trending on major local and national media outlets and blogs, and of course, keeping a close ear on the ground and eye on my feed of what my friends and family are saying.
Next post...Show Up & Question.
The University of Washington and KCTS 9 have released results from their statewide poll for NEXT WEEKS election. The poll is the second wave of a two part poll, and is the first poll I've seen that samples voters who have already received their ballot and potentially already voted.
Referendum 74 currently has strong support among all registered voters (57.3%-36.2%) and Baretto's estimate of likely voters (57.9% to 36.9%).
Baretto also tried something new to try to weed out any noise from voters who would be embarrassed to tell pollsters they were voting against the rights of same-sex couples. In 2009, with domestic partnership rights on the ballot, Baretto's poll of Referendum 71 estimated a win by 17 percent, when in effect Ref 71 only won by 6.3%.
After respondents finished with the poll, they were asked if at any point questions made them feel uncomfortable or if they lied about any of their answers. People who reported lying or feeling uncomfortable were counted as no votes on Referendum 74. With this conservative estimate, Baretto found that 52.3% of likely voters would approve Ref 74, and 45.8% would vote against.
More Poll Geekery after the jump:
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past several months (which I wouldn’t judge), you probably know that on November 6th Washingtonians will have the opportunity to be one of the first states in the U.S. to uphold gay marriage at the ballot box.
My relationship with Marriage Equality, like a lot of queer folks, is complicated. I’ve had, heard, and landed on both sides of the debates surrounding how Marriage Equality campaigns have drawn much-needed resources out of social justice issues such as the school to prison pipeline, access to health care, and youth homelessness to name a few.
I have to admit, I have landed on the side of the debate that Marriage Equality is, in fact, important. I agree, it is not the only issue queers should be fighting for. However, I can also see that Marriage Equality has the potential to affect many people’s lives on a very fundamental and positive level.
For example, I was going to school in Maine during election season in 2009 when Mainers had the chance to uphold Marriage Equality (they didn’t—they voted to repeal it by about a 6% margin). Leading up to the election, I attended a few community meetings for academia and out of personal interest.
The most notable was a discussion on Marriage Equality and religion led by Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop*. During the discussion, multiple gay men stepped up to ask the bishop how they should reconcile their feelings of anger towards people that had physically and/or verbally assaulted them based on their sexuality. In other words, in that room for the folks present, there was a strong connection between basic physical and emotional safety and Marriage Equality.
It began to sink in for me that for some people Marriage Equality is not just about a certificate, or even all the legal rights that go with marriage; it’s also about basic respect and dignity. It is about the sense that the right to marry might lead to greater public acceptance, and, therefore greater safety physically, emotionally, legally and psychically.
My hope for the fight for Marriage Equality in Washington, Maine and Maryland (the three states that have it on the ballot this election season,) is that it will be approved at the ballot box to promote safety for LGBTIQ folks on all levels.
However, I genuinely hope it doesn’t end there. I hope folks can start using the conversation about Marriage Equality in broader terms—that connections will be made between the legal, physical and emotional vulnerability that queer folks have with the legal, physical and emotional vulnerability that, for example, communities of color have in relation to the war on drugs and racial profiling. (Not to say they are comparable, the same experience or don’t intersect either, just to say they are all pieces of the same puzzle...and it'd be worthwhile to think about Initiative 502 as part of that puzzle.)
In essence, I hope that we can all start to see and talk about the campaign for Marriage Equality more broadly—that we all should really be thinking about, debating and campaigning for ways we can create spaces and environments where everyone feels safe and is capable of thriving.
*Gene Robinson will be leaving his post in 2013 due to continual threats to his life and personal safety since he became bishop in 2004.
To see a recent cinematic effort that speaks to Marriage Equality and deeply humanizes a same sex interracial relationship in the South, check out Patrick Wang’s In the Family:
Some Washingtonians have been reacting strongly to the Stranger's "Fear Mongering on R-74", in which a poll of likely voters found only 49% supported Marriage Equality. And by all means, if fear gets you motivated, then put on a terrifying costume and come get your Trick of Vote on.
While Dominic's right: Referendum 74 won't get approved without your help, remember that this poll is just of likely voters.
The October 24th Elway Poll considers "likely voters" people who have cast ballots in at least 1 out of the last 4 elections in 2010 and 2008. (No love for off-year city council elections?)
While this may help filter out the noise of 40-year-old voters who have been registered for years and don't tend to vote, it also takes away an incredibly progressive voting block: young and newly registered voters.
People likely to vote.
This most recent poll immediately tunes out all registered Washington voters age 18-20. Young voters overwhelmingly support Marriage Equality. An Oct 18th KCTS9 poll conducted by the University of Washington found voters age 18-29 approved R-74 68%-26%, more than a 2 to 1 margin.
That same poll also found R74 being approved 56% to 35% by all registered voters, and 54%-38% by their estimation of likely voters.
Likely voters are absolutely the most unreliable group because every pollster uses a completely different metric," said Matt Barreto, the UW pollster behind the KCTS9 study.
Barreto uses a more complicated likely voter metric that measures if voters historically vote during presidential elections.
"I personally don't think that someone who voted in one of the last four elections is a likely voter, if you only voted in one out of four elections you are an unlikely voter."
Barreto says historically his polls of all registered voters trend closer to actual election outcomes. He includes likely voters simply because journalists and poll-watchers like them.
"There are some people who don't look likely, but they'll still turn out and vote. I think R74 is going to pass."
We're not out of the woods. This is a close race that will only be won with involvement. But save the spooky stuff for Saturday.
Election day is SUPER close, and the deadlines to register to vote for most of us have come and gone.
But first time Washington Voters (meaning young people, new residents and brand new citizens) can still register in person up until Monday the 29th.
Check out these great PSA's the City of Seattle has put out.
This post was written by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person:
Are you a good citizen?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself for the past three months. I was born in Vietnam, a country not known for its democratic process. The first eight years of my life were spent in a fishing village. I did not grow up with running water, running toilets, or electricity, much less a culture of democracy, voting, or civic engagement. I immigrated to the United States in 1992, and 20 years later, I’m finally a citizen.
I currently volunteer in the community and work in community engagement, you’d think that I would know how this political stuff works by now. Somehow my involvement always felt distanced from the foray of power and political play and process. Secretly, I had feared that although I was a green card holder, it could be taken away if I was too politically opinionated or involved. The moment I was sworn in three months ago on July 31, something changed--I gained a sense of duty along with the great privilege of being an American citizen. I am now a voter, can fully participate in the democratic process, and no longer have to operate with the fear of living at the fray.
It is of great relief to gain the freedoms of being an American, and it is also a great obligation to our community and country that I do my due diligence to be an informed voter. I am not taking this responsibility lightly.
This post, will be the beginning of a series on how I navigate this process. I hope that my civic adventures can help shed light on your own experience of voting a complex ballot this year!
...awesome, and everyone's got one!
Super excited about voting but still on the fence for a few down-ticket races? Need some advice?
The following publications have put out some great endorsements. Read up. Need more motivation? Come to a ballot party (or throw your own) and fill one out with friends.
Perhaps the most profane and hilarious endorsements out of the NW.
Repping T-Town since 1883.
Fuse pushes for Progressive Policies throughout Washington, and doesn't always endorse each race (instead providing info on both candidates).
Got a bike? Wish it was slightly safer to use it? The CBC has your back, and seeks out legislators with similar goals in mind.
Providing birth control and medical care for women (and men) throughout Washington State.
A non-partisan group that doesn't endorse but provides in depth info on the candidates.
Representing 38,000 retail workers throughout Washington State, with an eye on which elected officials would do the most for working class citizens.
Another Washington State Union representing Teachers and Service employees.
Like clean air? Seals? Washington's environmental community endorses green candidates.
Policy wonks Josh Feit and Erica Barnett moved their blog to the Seattle Met Magazine. As of now, I only see endorsements in the 36th, 46th, and gubernatorial races, which is a shame since I loved their in-depth candidate analysis in the past. Hopefully more will come.
Seattle's only daily paper since the Post Intelligencer went online-only in 2009. The Times has been in some hot water as of late because of the business department's decision to take out whole page ads on behalf of Rob Mckenna and R-74. So you may want to take it with a grain o' salt.
If you're not following the Jewish Council for Education and Research's actually.org, you need to start. They were responsible for Sarah Silverman's Great Schlep video back in 2008 (asking young people to visit their Nanas in Florida to talk to them about the election). And they're putting out some quality videos again this year.
President Obama and Mitt Romney held their second of three debates Tuesday night. Readers may recall, as a fact-based true-believer, I called the first debate in Obama's favor - polls said differently. Apparently we decide debates based solely on gumption and eye contact.
Well, as Biden preluded, this debate played out quite differently. Obama was pugnacious, truculent and militant, or to put another way: Red Bull gave him wings.*
Where before Obama performed with a smug docility, this time around he contested every Romney statement. And while uncivil - about damn time.
Romney (and more recently Ryan) have been playing fast and loose with facts, figures and promises this entire election cycle, banking on the current state of journalism to let their claims go untested.
Well, this time Obama held Romney accountable, and the polls are rewarding him. Probably the best knock-out exchange was Romney's aggressive assertion that Obama failed to call the attack on the Libyan embassy an act of terror.
Obama did in fact call the deaths of four Americans an "act of terror" immediately, but waited for two weeks to definitively establish it was a planned attack, and not a response to an offensive YouTube video.
Ladies Love Cool Mitt:
The debate was a Town Hall format, and many of the questions from undecided voters revolved around domestic policy. One woman asked the candidates:
"In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72% of what their male counterparts earned?"
Obama mentioned the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which he signed into law the day he took office.
Romney went another direction, telling an anecdote about hiring women when he was the Governor of Massachusetts, and how he sought out "binders full of women".
The Internet exploded with "Binders Full of Women" memes, but I failed to find this as notable as his total inability to answer the question. In response to an answer about fair pay for women, Romney told a factually incorrect anecdote about hiring women when he was the Governor of Massachusetts. No mention of whether his female binders were paid as much as his male binders. In addition he added that female employees needed more flexible schedules so they could make it home in time to cook dinner.**
Romney claimed to have sought out more women on his own, but the true story was a non-partisan group of women hoping to see more equal representation pushed candidate Romney and his opponent to agree in advance to hire more women. He did.
Romney also claimed that 580,000 women lost jobs under Obama. This number is made up.
Guns Don't Kill People, Single Mothers Kill People:
One of the benefits of a Town Hall forum is voters get the chance to ask questions that the campaigns have otherwise managed to avoid. As was the case when one voter asked the candidates how they'd limit access to assault rifles.
"Weapons that were designed for soldiers don't belong on our streets," said Obama, and went on to say he'd like to see an Assault Weapons ban introduced. (Which realistically is unlikely to pass through the Tea Party controlled House of Representatives.)
In contrast, Romney stated that he wasn't in favor of any new legislation, and instead, the answer was good schools and two parent households:
"Gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies they ought to think about getting married to someone, that's a great idea," said the candidate who's vowed to defund Planned Parenthood.
Parents to Mexico, Children to Iraq:
The one last moment that really stood out was the candidate's response to immigration policy. Romney declared he wouldn't allow amnesty for anyone who was here
"illegally" without documentation, and doubled down on the "Self Deportation" statements he made during the Republican Primary. He did concede that children of undocumented immigrants who grew up here could stay, but added that "military service for instance is one way they would have that pathway."
This of course is the same character who dodged the Vietnam draft to be a Mormon missionary in France and lamented how much easier this election would be if he was Latino.
On the other hand, Obama has been no champion of immigrant rights. He has deported undocumented immigrants at approximately 1.5 times the rate as George W. Bush. But he did admit "we need to fix a broken immigration system" and told the audience "I've done everything I can on my own." He also used the term undocumented workers, in contrast to Romney's use of the term "illegals", which is overwhelmingly considered offensive.
One more debate to go. Also, check your mail - ballots are arriving here in Washington State. Once again full video after the jump:
Last Thursday Vice President Biden took on Congressman Ryan in their one and only debate of the campaign season.
It was different than the Obama Romney debate:
Biden successfully proxied the resentment and frustration accumulated over the last two years of made up campaign claims and phantom policy promises. For the first time in this campaign Ryan was held accountable for the words that came out of his mouth. It's likely we'll see a similar tactic from Obama in the Presidential Debate tomorrow night.
Conservative commentators are upset because Biden laughed openly throughout Ryan's talking points. I'd laugh as well. Ryan's statements don't pass the sniff test. If I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying at the fact a Presidential campaign made it this far without being truthful with the American voters. Oh yeah.
Take for instance Ryan and Romney's attacks on the stimulus. Both men have been saying the stimulus was a huge, ineffective waste of tax-payer money. Ryan again attacked it during the debate, but Biden was ready.
"I love my friend here," replied a laughing Biden. "He sent me two letters saying by the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?"
"I love that," continued Biden. "This is such a bad program he writes me a letter saying the reason we need the stimulus is it will create growth and jobs."
I'm Kinda A Numbers Guy:
While Biden earned his keep as an adept debater*, moderator Martha Raddatz was an excellent demonstration of how you moderate a debate. When Ryan was asked about his unaccounted for 20% across the board tax cut, Raddatz didn't let him squirrel out of an answer.
"No specifics," said Raddatz.
"And you guarantee this math will add up."
Ryan and Romney have been prancing around with this 20% tax cut for a while now, and they can't explain how it works. Because it can't work. You can't drop everyone's personal taxes 20% and then close a few unnamed loopholes to make up the difference.
Claims like these are less credible than Moon Colonies. I'm willing to believe technology could get us to Mars. I'm less willing to have faith that 2 minus 2 still equals 2 with a bit of magic.
Also Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna faced off in another debate the same night. I didn't listen. From the last two debates, it's clear both of them are kinda numbers guys as well.
Full debate after the jump.
An ad war is brewing. Election day is exactly 4 weeks away, and I'm really happy I don't own a TV.
Preserve Marriage Washington, the group fighting against Marriage Equality, has already reserved $1.5 million dollars in commercial air time.
One such ad is up on the Internet:
The ad is heavy handed and factually incorrect, and really fails to show why marriage really matters. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it's hard to get that across with a bunch of faceless silhouettes.
Contrast that with this message from Republican Cheryl Pflug, who rose to fame for her vote extending the freedom to marry to all individuals in Washington.
Braveheart also into Marriage Equality.
We'll be seeing countless more ads like these in the coming month. But even if you're incapable of banking an ad campaign, coming in to phonebank for marriage equality makes a huge difference. Join us!
One of the most competitive races this season is inside of Seattle proper, in the head to head race for Seattle's new 36th District.
Noel Frame and Gael Tarleton are both battling it out to represent the 36th, which spans from Carkeek Park down to the Pike Place Market, covering the dense urban areas of Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia and the Seattle Center.
Why so enthusiastic?
"When you vote for somebody in Seattle, it's an opportunity to get a champion, because we'll potentially be there for 20 years," said Frame in a phone interview with the Bus. "It certainly would be nice to elect a legislator who cares a lot about empowering young people, and I'd like to be the person behind it."
"I'm going to be out knocking doors right alongside with you. It's how I got started in politics and it's an honor to be a candidate."
"I want to lead a conversation about what it takes to fund a 21st century education. How we are going to make an investment in that here in this state. I don't think that conversation is happening, I don't think my opponent has that leadership. I hope that the voters in the 36th district are interested in that."
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year in McCleary vs. State that we're underfunding our school systems so badly it's unconstitutional. Washington needs to fully fund our schools by 2018 in order to be in compliance with the ruling.
"I want to lead a statewide conversation around the revenue system here in this state," said Frame. "Our tax structure is regressive, it's insufficient, and it's not very effective."
"I don't think funding schools at the expense of everything else we care about is the right approach. [Education is] one of the best investments we can make as a state, and we're falling pretty short of it right now."
The 36th has a history of being represented by progressive candidates. Frame hopes to continue that tradition by pushing forward-thinking ideas, like paying for an additional year of education after high school.
"In Washington and beyond, to have a living wage job, it requires at least one year of post secondary education," stated Frame. "Towards these goals of ensuring that our state residents are sharing in the prosperity of the incredible work we do here in the state, I would like to see the state lead on a different approach to education."
Beyond education, Noel is also a big proponent of high capacity public transit. She believes that Seattle should have the power to fund their own projects when the state is unwilling.
"I live in Ballard and boy would I love to have a streetcar or light rail, something out here besides just Metro," said Frame. "Local taxing authority is the answer. I want to see for instance the legislature continuing a conversation about public transit investments and infrastructure. Seven percent of the transportation budget goes towards public transit, I'd like to see us double that."
"The challenge is that when you have folks in the legislature representing areas like where I grew up [Battle Ground, WA], public transit isn't going to go out to that area. I think here at the local level we should push. It's an economic justice issue."
Noel Frame is the Washington State Director for Progressive Majority, and has been a long-time board member of the Washington Bus.
"I am the Bus, I fuel the Bus, I love the Bus," exclaimed Frame. "I am very happy that the Bus is coming with me and supporting my campaign. This is one of my favorite endorsements."
"The kids in my life have grown up with the Bus, my 10-year-old godson has gone on Bus trips, my 13-year-old cousin went on the Bus trip with us to Yakima."
"My 23-year-old cousin worked the Bus booth at Pride last year. It's not just about me, even the youngest people in my life understand their own power and their own voice because of their involvement in the Bus. I hope that you guys know how much the Bus matters to me, and how much I appreciate you."
Head on down to your favorite thrift shop, pick up some funky Halloween swag, and get ready to join us for a terrifyingly gigantic Get Out The Vote for Marriage Equality celebration!
That’s right: it’s Trick or Vote! AKA costumes, voting, Marriage Equality, party. Mix vigorously for best results.
On Saturday, October 27th, hundreds of young people in full amazing costume (including you!), will be spreading out across Seattle, knocking on doors and reminding thousands of people to turn in their ballots, and approve Referendum 74!
Is this a big deal? You better believe it. It’s the biggest Get Out The Vote for Marriage Equality our state has ever seen. Ever! EVER.
So put it in your calendar: October 27th at 1pm. Go on, I’ll wait!
Sign up here. More spooky details coming soon!
-Christine, the Wizard of Oz of Trick or Vote
P.S. Got any good costume ideas? Send them my way (christine[at]washingtonbus[dot]org) and be featured in our costume countdown! Some good submissions so far: a washing machine, Carmen Sandiego, and Pac-Man. Top that!
P.P.S. Does your organization or group want to get on the poster? Email me and I’ll give you the deets to bring a team.
As a continuing part of our focus on pivotal senate races this election, today let's take a look at Maine.
Angus King (I-Outback Steakhouse) is running as an Independent and claims no allegiance to the Democratic or Republican Party. He's polling ahead of Democrat Cynthia Dill and Republican Charlie Summers (50-12-24 respectively) and has stayed there despite a slew of negative campaigning.
King was the former Governor of Maine, and is incredibly popular in the state. The National Democratic Party isn't backing Dill, but the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce are both putting money behind Summers. As an added twist, a conservative PAC is actually funding ads supporting the Democrat in order to take away some of King's lead.
King would replace moderate Republican Olympia Snowe, who is retiring in part due to frustration over the partisan atmosphere in Washington. While he is expected to caucus with Democrats, his independence could give him considerable power on close votes. Assuming a continued use of the filibuster, the 60th vote in the Senate tends to get whatever they want.
Progressive Independent Thoughts
Maine also has a Marriage Equality initiative on the ballot. The initiative (overturning a current ban on same-sex marriage) currently polls 57% for equality, and only 36% against. A ban on Marriage Equality was voted on three years ago, and the ban passed with 53% of the vote. Things look good, but as is the case in Washington, a slew of negative ads could easily cost Maine their lead.