For most students at Seattle Central College, this mid term election represents your first opportunity to vote. I do not envy you the neophyte’s task of learning to navigate the American electoral system amidst the chaos that is our modern political sphere. I wish I could tell you that it doesn’t matter how you personally vote, as long as you get out there and add your voice to the body politic.
But, I cannot.
The modern Republican party, as led and represented by President Donald Trump, constitutes an existential threat to the lives of people of color, trans and queer folk, immigrants, foreigners and women. I do not make that statement hyperbolically. Donald Trump, and the party he champions, wants the (straight, white, Christian) women subjugated, and the rest of you gone, by boat or by bullet.
As the Collegian’s token straight, white man, I can only look down the halls of this school in horror as I realize that the vast majority of the students I share this school with are directly affected by the nightmare policies of the tweeter-in-chief, and that only by accident of birth might I be spared the direct effect of the fascism creeping across our governmental landscape. I saw a comment on social media that caught me:
In this context, given everything that has happened, I can only assume that if you would vote Republican, you want me dead.
Left with the evidence assaulting my social media daily, I am forced to agree. So, I cannot stress the importance of voting in this election, and voting against any Republican trying to gain office. There is no more important thing you can do as an advocate, ally or activist than voting. And to you saying “screw voting, what we need is a revolution,” if you’re not planning on completing your revolution before November 6th, then we could really use your vote.
First things first, you need to get registered to vote. You have until October 29th to register in person at the King County Elections office, located at 919 Southwest Grady Way Renton, WA 98057-2906 between 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.
Once you have gotten yourself registered, and received a ballot, you need to read this endorsement, and fill your ballot out accordingly (completely fill in the oval!).
Initiative Measure No. 1631 – YES
This is an initiative about putting pollution taxes on big industrial oil polluters. We need solutions to the upcoming armageddon of climate collapse, because as relatively young people, we stand a good chance of still being alive in the afterscape, and should want it to be as livable as possible. Opponents will tell you that it will make your gas prices go up, and it will, but only because the industries being taxed will inevitably pass that buck on to the consumers who dared to levy a tax on them. Besides, most of us use public transit or bike anyway. Vote Yes.
Initiative Measure No. 1634 – NO
This is an initiative made by soda companies in response to Seattle’s sugary beverage tax, which they lobbied heavily against. They want to prevent any other municipality from being able to levy taxes against soda, so they came up with this initiative, and started an ad campaign against “taxing groceries.” It’s actually already illegal to tax most staple food items, so this line of attack is false on its face. The only thing this initiative prevents is taxation on sugary beverages.
Now, it is a consumption tax, which is inherently regressive. I’m not a fan of regressive taxation, but in Washington, due to a contentious state supreme court reading of a state constitutional amendment, it is illegal to levy an income tax, making us one of the few states that doesn’t have one, and contributing to our state having the most regressive tax system of any state in the nation, despite having majority liberal control for decades. Because of this, I am loathe to prevent the government a source of future taxation if we need it to support government programs. Perhaps once we are able to implement a state income tax, this idea can be revisited (among repealing other regressive taxes), but I have no interest in artificially tying our hands now. Besides, the major opponents are out of state soda manufacturers. Vote No.
Initiative Measure No. 1639 – YES
This is an initiative about restricting gun access. If you are tired of the “thoughts and prayers” mantra of those who value their guns more than the people those guns kill, then this is an initiative for you. It increases the depth of background checks for certain classes of guns, increases waiting periods, requires standardized training for prospective buyers of semiautomatic weapons, and criminalizes improper storage. The opponents have said the same thing they always say about any gun legislation, that it only criminalizes legal owners, but I kind of figure that if you can’t wait for an extended waiting period, or can’t pass a more thorough background check… then I don’t want you to have access to those guns. The major opponent is the Russian controlled NRA. Vote Yes.
Edit: A few hours after this was published, a man walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA during the morning service, shouted, “All Jews must die!” and killed 11 people with an AR-15, injuring six others, including four police officers. Vote Yes.
Initiative Measure No. 940 – YES
Charleena Lyles. Tommy Le. John T. Williams. These were people shot and killed by unaccountable police officers in Washington State. Washington is one of the most difficult places to prosecute a law enforcement officer for wrongful killing, due to a provision that any potential case against such an officer must prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the officer had “malicious intent” when they killed their subject. Given that telepathy is not something that the average jurist or prosecuting attorney is capable of, it remains exceedingly difficult to bring a case against an officer to court, much less prove it to a jury. This initiative removes that requirement, along with mandating de-escalation, and mental health training for all officers in the state. Considering the way Mayor Jenny Durkan’s negotiations with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild have utterly failed police accountability activists, this initiative will save lives. Vote Yes.
As I was writing this, a video surfaced of an incident in Oregon last month of two police officers accosting an unarmed man in a restaurant bathroom, and shooting him to death when they mistook one of the officers’ tasers for a gun held by the subject. He had been jaywalking. The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Advisory Vote No. 19 – MAINTAINED
If you’re new to Washington state politics, you quite possibly have never heard of a loathsome little troll named Tim Eyman. He hates taxes, and basically thinks they are the worst thing that a government can possibly do. To this end, he managed to sneak in an initiative a few years ago (among many, many that he’s tried) that made it so that any time the state legislature votes for something that increases taxes, we the people have to give an “advisory vote.” It’s nonbinding. It does nothing if we vote to repeal.
It basically amounts to “old man shakes fist at clouds.” We elect representatives in our state government to do things like levy taxes. If we don’t like the taxes those representatives levy, we vote the bums out. That’s how representative democracy works. This advisory vote nonsense is just a way for Eyman to infect people with his anti-tax animus. Don’t buy it. Let the legislature do their jobs, and if you don’t approve of them, vote them out. On this, and every other advisory vote, Vote Maintained, on principle.
United States Senator – MARIA CANTWELL
The incumbent, Maria Cantwell, is a reliably corporate Democrat, which is not my favorite flavor of Democrat (that’s why primaries are important!). Her opponent in the general, however, has (R) after her name, so that’s enough reason not to vote for her. Seriously though, Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO TV anchor and former chair of the state Republican party, only joined the race late in the primary so that the Republican ticket wouldn’t go by default to Joey Gibson, the alt-right founder of Patriot Prayer. She knows she will lose (not that that means you should get complacent!), but it seemed like bad optics to have the guy who frequently holds white supremacist rallies head the Republican ticket.
But seriously, get this Hutchison quote from her voters’ pamphlet entry, “And be assured, when President Trump is good for Washington State, I’ll support him. When he’s not, I can talk to him.” Whatever helps you sleep at night, Susan. Vote Cantwell.
United States Representative Congressional District No. 7 – PRAMILA JAYAPAL
Pramila Jayapal is freaking awesome. Full disclosure, I worked briefly for her 2016 campaign, but only because I was as certain then as I am now that she is exactly the kind of person we need in Congress. She fights for immigrant rights, having founded OneAmerica, she is a member of the Justice Democrats, a caucus that refuses money from big business donors, she supports universal healthcare through Medicare-For-All, supports free college and reduced student debt, she advanced legislation that would force Trump’s administration to be more transparent, and she sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which means that when Democrats gain subpoena power, she is one of the few who will be personally handing Trump his own ass. I wish we had a hundred more Jayapals, but we’ll have to be satisfied with just the one. Also, her opponent is a total wackadoo with (R) after his name. Vote Jayapal.
Washington State Senators and Representatives – DEMOCRATS
Student voters at Seattle Central College may belong to one of many different state legislative districts, each having a state senator and two state representatives. All of the incumbent legislators in those districts are Democrats, which is good, because it helps the state government not be a total cluster of tax cutting, anti immigrant lunacy, or basic, obstructionist gridlock. However, despite Washington’s reputation as a liberal bastion, our state government is actually pretty well split down the middle, with the House sitting at 50-48 majority to the Democrats, and the Senate at 25-24 to the Democrats. But don’t get comfortable, because one of those Democratic Senators has declared themselves “independent” and begun caucusing with the Republicans, which basically leaves us with split government.
As far as you’re concerned, dear reader, your task is simple. Just vote for the Democrats in your district. Your other options are Republicans (by boat or by bullet), Libertarians (socially liberal, but don’t care if their fiscal conservatism kills you), or “unopposed.” The one exception is the Senate race in the 32nd District (north west Seattle and Shoreline), which is the only race to pit two Democrats against each other. The incumbent is Maralyn Chase, who voted against a legislative public records transparency law, boo. Her challenger, Jesse Salomon, supports the transparency bill, and a statewide income tax, which is sorely needed. Vote Salomon.
King County Prosecuting Attorney – DARON MORRIS
I’ve got good news and bad news in this case. The good news is that Daron Morris is a public defender with reform on the mind. He’s promised to end the system of cash bail, protect the marginalized from predatory plea deals, keep children out of jail and hold law enforcement accountable. The bad news is he dropped out of the race in September, citing medical issues. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t send a message to incumbent Dan Satterberg, a man who only felt it prudent to divorce himself from the Republican party in May of this year. He may win, but we can tell him that his prosecuting days may be numbered. Vote Morris.
Judiciary – INCUMBENTS (GONZALEZ)
You may have noticed that most of the rest of your ballot includes various judicial seats with only one person running. Despite elected judiciary being sort of weird in the first place, it defeats the purpose if no one challenges the incumbent. That’s not choice. That’s why all you students who are interested in the more readin’ and writin’ disciplines (as opposed to ‘rithmatic) should all go to law school, and then immediately run for a judgeship. You might even win. Then you get a sweet robe and a hammer (I know it’s called a gavel).
The one race that is an actual competition is the State Supreme Court Position 8. The incumbent is Steve Gonzalez, a solid justice who is endorsed by pretty much everyone. His opponent is Nathan Choi, who, as far as I can tell, ran on a dare. Choi made a point of declaring his admiration, if not explicit support, of SCOTUS Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, both famously accused of sexual crimes against women. He was also sued by the state Attorney General for campaign finance violations. His law license has been suspended in Hawaii, where he earned his degrees, and he has been reprimanded by the King County Bar Association. This one is pretty easy. Vote Gonzalez.
City of Seattle Proposition No. 1 – YES
It’s money. For schools. You’re a student in a school. Vote Yes.
I’m done voting, now what?
You still have a few things to do. At the top of your ballot, remove the stub that says “Remove this stub.” Keep it. It has a QR code and other numbers that help you track your vote. Then, fold up your ballot just like it was when you got it, and place it in the provided security envelope just like the picture shows you. Then, put the ballot and security envelope into the return envelope (the one that’s a different color) and seal it closed. Then, and this is very important…
Don’t forget to sign your return envelope!
It has to be signed with the same name you registered under, so keep that in mind if you’ve gotten married, transitioned, or fought with your dad since you registered. Don’t forget to put the date, as well. Once you have your completed, sealed, signed ballot, bring it to school! We have our very own ballot drop box located outside the northeast corner of the Broadway Edison building (pictured above). Then, that’s it, you’ve been a good little franchise exercising patriot. Have a cookie.
And if all else fails, find me in the halls, and I’ll help you out. It’s the most important thing you do as a citizen.