Today, October 16th, 2020, nearly 1.4 million registered voters in King County, Washington should have their ballots and voting guides from the state and county.
The amount of information can be overwhelming. If you’re like me, you have 39 different items to vote on. Take some time to read the words on the printed pages you’ve received. Voting is one of the top ways to make your voice heard in the United States. We’re so lucky to live in cities like Seattle, Kirkland, and Bellevue that push for voter rights and transparency. Please, use the help that’s being offered.
The official ballots were mailed out October 14, so many have arrived already. Open it up and read the instructions. Take a look at the candidates and measures on your personalized ballot. This will help you limit the other information that will be helpful. The candidates and measures you see are different than what others see in other locations. You don’t need or get to vote on candidates who represent other areas and measures that are for other cities and other counties. For example, there’s a Seattle measure I can’t vote for and a Kirkland proposition people outside Kirkland don’t see on their ballot. I vote for or against my US representative for Congress Susan DelBene. People in Bellevue don’t see her on their ballot.
The Washington State Voters’ Pamphlet
You might have received your state voters’ pamphlet weeks ago. I did. If you didn’t hold on to it, go to sos.wa.gov to see the online version.
Every federal candidate, like the President of the US, statewide candidate and statewide measure has a page or more of information in this small book. Look at the instructions in the front, then browse through for the candidates and measures you see listed on your ballot. You won’t see King County or city measures or local judges. Those are in the next piece.
Everything or person you can vote for or against has some information in the guide.
For example, find Referendum Measure No. 90 under State Measures, on pages 8-12, in the King county north and eastside version of the PDF download. You’ll see an explanation, the projected financial impact, and statements from the community for and against this measure. The community can provide statements for and against every measure on the ballot. Sometimes you’ll only see a statement for or against. That’s a pretty good sign this measure has wide support one way or the other. I normally skim those, just to see if anything sticks out I wouldn’t agree with. Generally, I go with the unopposed recommendations.
Local Voters’ Pamphlet
Registered voters in King County also receive a local voters’ pamphlet. Not all counties in Washington have these, as far as I know. However, King County, with the large amount of voters from the Seattle area, feels like it’s worthwhile to print these to help inform us as voters.
Again, take a look at your ballot to see what part of this voting information is important for you to look at. On my ballot, I have some items from the county and one from my city and a few local judges with information in the guide. Most of the King County measures are responses to racial bias in policing. For example, Charter Amendment No. 5, Making the King County Sheriff an Appointed Position, is one of two charter amendments on the King County ballots which have community statements both for and against them.
For most things on the ballot, I feel I have enough information in the pamphlets to make my decision. For the candidates, I already did a lot of research in the primaries and don’t have to do much more now. However, there are some items on my ballot where the information in the pamphlet isn’t enough for me to make a decision. That’s the case for Amendment No. 5.
Newspaper endorsements are a really good source of information when the voting guides from the state and county aren’t enough. Major local newspapers like The Seattle Times have long established journalistic integrity. Without high reporting standards, papers can’t keep readers. And in times like this, I’m really glad we still have local papers. Without them, there’s just so many voices, from so many sources on the internet, it’s really hard to figure out if all of them have any standards or integrity.
On Amendment No. 5, there’s competing endorsements printed, so read them closely. To me, this is the one item on my ballot I need to do the most research on. It might be the same for you.
- The Times recommends voting against the amendment.
- The Stranger recommends voting for the amendment.
- The Times also printed a community statement for the amendment.
Keep in mind that, while well researched and following journalistic standards, the newspaper endorsements are all printed in the opinion sections of the papers. The three articles I link to should be looked at as opinions you can take or leave. However, they do provide good perspectives on the issues.
Websites and misinformation
Finally, if you do need more information beyond newspapers, I suggest you use a tool like NewsGuard to help identify the quality of information from a website. NewsGuard is supported as part of Microsoft’s campaign against misinformation and is a free extension for my browser of choice, Microsoft Edge.