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Hope For The New American Electorate

Posted by at Jul 16, 2014 04:26 PM |
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This blog post was written by Gladys Gitau, 2014 Bus Fellow and Campaign Manager for the Youth Voter Engagement Campaign (YVEC), a campaign aimed to engage the new American electorate by registering young voters as well as underrepresented voters. You can find out more about the Washington Bus Fellowship at

It's always bizarre to see the political phenomenon you learn about in class manifest outside in the field. This weekend I got an up close and heartbreaking look into why politics work how they work.

This weekend the YVEC campaign took to Broadway street in the lovely city of Tacoma in a valiant effort to get all of its eligible residents registered to vote. Walking around Tacoma pride, I myself was encouraged to see droves of queer brown youth, out and proud. What would happen if all these beautiful people were registered and excited to vote, I thought? What kind of world would we live in then!

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Your Valentine from King County Elections

Posted by at Feb 08, 2013 11:29 AM |
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Holy S**t, another election!

King County is holding a special February election to renew two expiring school levies.  A yes vote would maintain the current level of school funding, a no vote would lower it.

I'm not gonna tell you how to vote, but Republicans and Democrats seem to be equally in agreement that we should be funding our schools more.

Ballots need to be postmarked by February 12th, which is Tuesday.  This ballot may not be as sexy as the last, but it's equally important.  And just as likely to end with another epic dance party on Capitol Hill.



Those lacking stamps (a.k.a. everyone) can drop off your ballot at one of the local Ballot Drop Boxes.  Bonus: there's a new one at the Rainier Community Center in South Seattle.



Guest Post! My Tam's Guide to Citizenship and First Time Voting Pt. 1

Posted by at Oct 25, 2012 12:28 PM |

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!

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Election Update

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 05:31 PM |
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Devin PinkWith 31.87% of total statewide ballots counted (and another 207,625 on hand and unprocessed) we can add an addendum to yesterday's coverage.

In the 10th LD, the race that was too close to call yesterday between State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen and current Representative Barbara Bailey looks more callable.  Haugen is trailing Bailey 52% to 48%, or 1,400 votes.

Haugen District

Between Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties there is currently 49,700 ballots left to be counted - more than enough to make up the 1,400 vote difference between the two candidates.  But the percentage of votes for Haugen would have to swing pretty drastically over the next few days.

Spokane's 3rd DistrictIn the 3rd District, Democrat Marcus Riccelli still has a strong lead, and it's looking like G.O.P. identified candidate Tim Benn will run against him.  The three Democrats pulled in a combined 65% of the vote total, so unless the winds shift drastically Riccelli has a strong advantage in the general.  Once again Spokane has 4,000 ballots unprocessed and on hand and Benn sits less than 500 votes ahead of Jon Snyder and Bob Apple. While unlikely, either of the two Democrats could pop into second.

43rd DistrictIn Seattle's urban 43rd District, Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant is being trounced by Jamie Pedersen by a 9 to 1 margin.  But in the race against Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, there is currently 2,085 write-in votes and only 1,878 for his Independent challenger Gregory Gadow.  Again, assuming The Stranger's write-in campaign was successful, Sawant could switch races and run against Chopp.

And a slight revision from yesterday's overzealous victory announcement for Bob Ferguson in the Attorney General's race.  While Ferguson is drastically ahead of his main Republican challenger Reagan Dunn, if the 10% of votes that went towards fellow Republican Stephen Pidgeon were added to Dunn's total, the race would be 51.3 to 48.7. Ferguson is still doing well, especially with his formidable 61% in populous King County.  I blame my abacus.

Attorney General's Race Day 3 Primary

I said yesterday that Dunn would need Houdini-style magic to make up this gap.  I'm going to downgrade that to Gob Bluth.

No ID? No Vote, No Voice

Posted by at Aug 10, 2012 03:13 PM |

Tyler Blogging Head

The content below was written by 2012 Bus Fellow Tyler Sadonis, as a program of the Washington Bus Education Fund.  The bus fellows are currently blogging along at

Twenty percent of 18 to 24-year-olds do not have a government-issued photo ID. In the ten states shown below, those young people without IDs will be unable to vote in November.


States with Voter ID Laws

Obtaining a photo ID is more difficult than you would expect. Offices that issue photo IDs have limited business hours and are often found in rural areas where there is limited public transportation. On top of that, it can cost between $8-$25 to obtain a birth certificate (which is needed to get a photo ID). The Brennan Center for Justice outlines the difficulties of obtaining a photo ID in this comprehensive report.


This is NOT the ID you want to use.

What’s the reason behind these laws? Proponents argue that voter ID laws help ensure the integrity of elections by preventing voter fraud. The reality is that voter fraud does not exist. While there are allegations of non-citizens voting in elections or people voting twice using fake names, that is simply not the case. A report by the Brennan Center for Justice in 2007 found that, “it is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”

Lightning Strikes Vote Fakers Dead

Your ability to vote in elections should not be determined by how much money you have in your pocket or whether you can visit an office to get an ID. Instead, we should encourage voting and make it easier for everyone to participate in elections. The problem is not apathy, it’s access. Laws like the voter ID laws we have seen place an unfair burden on young people.

Who Doesn't Have Government ID

A recent report by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts found that 44 percent of young adults didn’t know if they had to show a government photo ID or a driver’s license to vote. Thankfully, here in Washington State photo ID is not required to vote. But if you’re attending college out of state and are considering voting there, I encourage you to check out this voters’ guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

What Just Happened?!?

Posted by at Aug 08, 2012 05:40 PM |

Devin PinkThe primary's over, and the election night party haze is evaporating (slowly).

What do we know now that we didn't know a day ago?  With only 22% of the votes counted, so far we can discern the following:

Bob Ferguson is likely going to be our Attorney General.  Jay Inslee has a nice lead going into the general election.  And Steve Gonzalez will remain on the Supreme Court.


Jay Inslee pulled in 46% of the vote statewide, and earned nearly 60% in King County.  Rob McKenna received just under 43%. "Conventional wisdom" is that primaries skew conservative, which can't make Republican Rob McKenna feel very good about these results going into the general.

Inslee McKenna County Breakdown Primary


The Attorney General's race is drastically less close, with Bob Ferguson winning with a 14 point margin and in drastically more counties.  Reagan Dunn would need Houdini-style magic to make up this gap in the next three months.

Attorney General Primary Results Statewide


Kathleen Drew beat out her other Democratic rivals for Secretary of State with 21%. Republican Kim Wyman pulled in 39% of the vote statewide, and a whopping 48.57% in Pierce county, where she was the auditor.  While still close to call, combined the Democrats earned 51% of the vote, giving Drew the edge in this statewide race come November.

Secretary of State Primary Results


Sitting Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez beat out his opponent Bruce O. Danielson with a solid 56%.  Of course, Danielson raised absolutely no money and received no endorsements, which begs the question: huh?! Judges are non-partisan, and many counties didn't receive voter's guides, which meant some voters could have been flipping a coin to decide who to vote for.  Or as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eli Sanders puts it: potential prejudice based solely on Gonzalez's Mexican-American name.


Supreme Court Race Statewide Primary


Wonking Out Hardcore Below The Break.


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Spotted: The Elusive Ballot Van

Posted by at Aug 07, 2012 04:40 PM |
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Devin PinkDown to just 3 more hours until your ballot is due.

You have until 8PM tonight to get your ballot dropped off at a ballot box, or in one of these brand-spanking new giant orange ballot drop-off vans.

UW Vallot Drop Off Van

Orange You Glad You Voted!?!?

Ballot Drop Off Personnel


Katie Voting

Campus Organizer Katie Stultz drops off her iconic ballot.

Voting is Sexy and So Are You

Posted by at Jul 25, 2012 04:30 PM |

Christina S Blogging Head Taller

The content below was written by 2012 Bus Fellow Christina Sessoms, as a program of the Washington Bus Education Fund.  The bus fellows are currently blogging along at

Hey Party People!!

So many of us remember being dragged along to the polling stations and waiting anxiously for our parents to get out of the isolated booth. If you were a lucky one, you were able to go inside and experience democracy as a young tot. I, myself, was a good girl and was able to lick on a lollipop while having my first taste of voting.

However, now it is completely different. Nowadays, Washingtonians vote by mail which in itself is very convenient. People don’t have to actually get up to go to a polling station but can now sprawl their ballot and voters’ guide over the kitchen table to become more informed instead of making a rash, uneducated decision at the outdated stations. Two main things prompted the introduction of mail-in ballots: The polling stations did not stay open to accommodate the late working citizen who wanted to cast their ballot and people simply did not know where to actually vote.

So, Washington voter, including yourself, should have gotten your ballot already. If you haven’t, you definitely need to register or update your registration. (As a side note, you can register at…I’m tryna help you out here.)


Carefully read and follow the instructions on the ballot and in the voters’ pamphlet.

  1. Read your ENTIRE ballot, front and back, before filling it out.
  3. Remove and recycle the stub at the top of the ballot.
  4. Sign and date the declaration on the back of the return envelope.
  5. RETURN your ballot through the mail (using a first class stamp) through the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Check with your specific county for different ways to return your ballot.

*If by chance your Starbucks spilled all over the table soaking your ballot through or you were trying to be overtly green by recycling and oops there goes your ballot, don’t worry! You can always request a new one by emailing, calling, or visiting your county’s Elections office. I would just advise to not wait till the last day, hour, minute, or even seconds.

P.S.- Just as a side note and a few simple tips to mail-in voting…

  • You have the option of writing in a name of a candidate. So if you feel that your cat, Mr. Whiskas Jr. can do a better job than the five candidates running, then you have that alternative. Be wise with your vote though!
  • Make sure the signature on the ballot envelope MATCHES the signature on file with your voter registration otherwise you’re going to get a ring-a-ling from the Elections office. We don’t want that small hassle now, do we?
  • Do not put multiple ballots in one envelope.


Registering To Vote Just Got Added To Your Timeline

Posted by at Jul 19, 2012 04:19 PM |
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Mansoor Blogging HeadTired of stalking your friends on Facebook? Fret no more! Now you can be a creep and a patriotic American! All of the cool kids are doing it!

Just recently, Washington-based software giant Microsoft teamed up with Facebook to create an app that makes Washington the first state to allow people to register to vote online via Facebook. The app, which automatically fills the name and date of birth data from user profiles, claims to be safe and non-intrusive. In fact, Facebook merely serves as the gateway here. The app will collect the data, which will all go to the Secretary of State’s office, not the personal computer of Mark Zuckerberg.

Those in fear of voter fraud can rest easy.  Voter registration forms will still require state ID or driver’s license numbers. No dogs or zombies will be registering on Facebook’s watch!


But the best part is that you can like the page!  So not only will you participate in your democracy, but you can also show your friends how damn patriotic you are! ‘Merica!


Posted by at Jul 17, 2012 02:52 PM |
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Devin PinkVoting without a stamp in the greater King County Area just got a little easier: this election we'll have three brand new locations to drop off your ballot.

As we mentioned in October, the University of Washington campus was slated to receive a ballot drop box for the 2012 election.

Also getting some democratic love:  West Seattle and Kirkland.  As an added twist, rather than fixed conventional ballot drop boxes, there will be ballot drop vans at each location.

"The vans are serving in place of a ballot drop box to provide service for this year's elections," said Kim van Ekstrom, Communications Manager for King County Department of Elections. "It'll help augment the drop boxes, we can test the rate of return in some areas that we'd be interested in seeing."

Ballot Drop Van

One Potential Mock Up

Would these drop vans preclude a permanent drop box in the future?

"That I don't know," replied van Ekstrom. "This year we are expecting to see really high turn out because of the presidential election.  We'll evaluate and see how they do."

Unlike conventional boxes which are available 24 hours a day, the vans will only be in place for four days during the August primary during specific times frames.

The vans will be on location with staff on hand August 3, 4, and 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, and Election Day, August 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Similar windows are planned for the November election.

Ballots will be sent out shortly, and can still be returned by conventional mail.  For a list of all ballot drop locations and hours, check out King County's website.

Yelling Fire In A Crowded Theater

Posted by at Jul 17, 2012 01:20 PM |
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Devin PinkIn case you missed it, the Seattle Times ran a hyperventilation-inducing piece on dogs and dead people receiving voter registration forms by mail. Non-profit organizations dedicated to engaging more citizens in the voting process were mailing out voter registration documents with names already on the forms (agreed - a curious practice). The names and addresses were pulled from private commercial databases, which meant people who subscribed to PetLife magazine under their dog's name could potentially receive a mislabeled registration form.  Perhaps this should be spelled out - but no dogs or dead people returned the forms or will cast ballots in the next election.

Completely absent from this story is any statistical analysis on whether or not voting fraud actually occurs. According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute: "voter fraud is both irrational and extremely rare."

The report goes on to look at Washington State's 2004 election, in which Governor Gregoire beat out Dino Rossi by 129 votes. The photo-finish race led to an increased level of scrutiny at our local voting process and the potential for voter fraud.

In that election, they found that voter fraud occurred approximately 0.0009% of the time, or less than 24 votes. Americans are hit by lightning at the same rate.

Lightning in Seattle


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Of All The Reasons to Vote in the Primary...

Posted by at Jul 09, 2012 01:55 PM |
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Devin PinkToday is the deadline to register to vote in order to vote in the August 7th primary election.

The primary election often gets overlooked by the big ticket items on the November Guberna-Presidential-Gay-Marriage-Marijuana-deciding general.  But this primary election has some important races that will not wait until November.

Washington voters will have the chance to fill three out of the nine positions on our Supreme Court. Position 8's victor will be decided on August 7th.

Judge GonzalezJudge Danielson



Primary Cage Match

Steve Gonzalez vs. Bruce Danielson


Due to budget concerns, there will be no voter's guide for the primary election.  Which means a voter without Internet access likely has nothing more than their names to use as the basis for their vote.  (Or I guess a subscription to a dead-tree paper... hah!)

Gonzalez is currently the incumbent in the race and was appointed by Governor Gregoire.  He has received the endorsement of the Seattle Times, the Tacoma News Tribune, and the Wenatchee World paper, as well as a positive review in The Stranger.

At time of this publication, Bruce Danielson has received one positive letter to the editor from a personal friend.

The supreme court is one of the most powerful institutions in Washington State.  Register and help decide who holds this power.

Also, libraries!

106% Voter Turnout

Posted by at Jun 07, 2012 01:53 PM |
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Devin PinkSlightly more on Tuesday's election before we let sleeping dogs lie.

Turnout in Wisconsin was amazing for a non-presidential year, breaking all previous records for votes in a gubernatorial race.

Statewide, 57.7% of registered voters voted in the election, and perhaps sealing in Walker's victory, turnout in the heavily Republican Ozaukee County hit 73.3%.

In more progressive Madison City, certain wards broke 100% turnout - that is more people voted than were registered before the election.  City Church hit 102% turnout, and Bridge-Lake Point-Waunona hit 106%.

This was not an incident of voter fraud, it's what happens when you allow for same-day voter registration.  Not only can everyone who is registered vote, every eligible voter can vote.

Here's hoping someday Washington can be in the same boat.

All Eyes On Wisconsin

Posted by at Jun 05, 2012 04:43 PM |
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Devin Pink

The long term effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will come to a close today as tonight's election results are tallied.

Current polling gives Walker a small lead over challenger Tom Barrett, but Walker has an impressive and/or reprehensible 10-1 fundraising advantage.

Walker is only the third Governor in history to face recall.  Unions and labor activists organized the recall after Walker forced through a bill that ended collective bargaining rights for union employees.

I Don't Stand With Scott

The results will be close and it's unlikely we'll know how Walker fared until the dust settles tomorrow.  One unique point of interest: Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration. People who hadn't realized how epic today's vote is until this blog post can go out and register and have their voice heard right now.  (Our one Wisconsin reader, do it!)

The Bus pushed for same-day voter registration during our last legislative session in Olympia.  Alas, the bill didn't make it. Maybe seeing how Wisconsin's cheese heads (can we say that?) handle it will inspire our legislators to pass it next session.

Print This Out

Posted by at Mar 29, 2012 01:25 PM |
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Devin PinkCraig Newark, the guy who single-handedly made it easier to get rid of your couch and/or make the worst roommate decision of your life, has put together a pretty awesome PDF detailing the effects of the slew of voter suppression laws passed throughout battleground states in the last few years.

Conservative legislatures across the U.S. have enacted laws that make it more difficult for people to vote by tightening registration requirements and requiring additional and often onerous forms of ID.

Craig Voters Lightning Strikes

The layout does an excellent job of tying the new laws to their insidious side effects.  Requiring photo ID's disenfranchises approximately 1 in 5 Asian and Latino Americans, 1 in 4 African Americans, and less than 1 in 12 White Americans.  (Also hurting, the 1 out of 5 eligible and registered voters age 18-29 lacking a driver's license.)

Click save. Click print.  Spread the word.

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