Kshama Sawant supporters say they’ve collected enough signatures for November recall vote

Jul 27, 2021, 11:40 AM | Updated: 3:00 pm
Sawant recall...
Kshama Sawant supporters gathering recall signatures on Capitol Hill. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Supporters for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant announced Tuesday that they have collected the remaining signatures needed to trigger a November recall vote.

Campaign accuses Sawant of ‘co-opting’ recall process

In total, the recall campaign needs 10,739 verified signatures from District 3 voters within a 180-day period in order to get on the ballot for the next scheduled election. That number constitutes 25% of total votes cast in the last election for the district’s council seat in 2019.

While the group has until mid-October before its window expires, it has previously stated its intent to turn them in before the early-August deadline needed to make the November election ballot. In early July, the recall also revealed that it had collected 9,000 signatures, with a goal to gather between 13,000 to 14,000 in total “to ensure we have enough since some will be invalidated.”

In a subsequent press conference from Sawant days later, she claimed that the recall campaign was actually aiming for a lower-turnout special election early in 2022, and accusing it of seeking to suppress the will of District 3 voters. Sawant then urged supporters to begin gathering signatures for the recall in order to make November’s ballot, under the assumption that the higher turnout election will attract larger quantities of progressive voters.

On Tuesday, Kshama Solidarity — the group leading the effort in support of Sawant — announced that it has collected and turned over 2,047 additional signatures in the last 10 days. Based on its own estimates, it believes the recall campaign should now have roughly 14,000 signatures (including ones the campaign itself has collected since its early-July update).

Kshama Sawant recall group targets November election

Socialist Alternative’s Kailyn Nicholson also claimed that supporters recently asked recall manager Henry Bridger whether he intended to turn in the campaign’s signatures in time to make the November ballot. Bridger was said to have “not given a clear answer,” indicating that the campaign is now targeting 20,000 signatures prior to final submission.

In a subsequent statement, Bridger said that King County Elections estimates 52% of submitted signatures for ballot measures have been valid during this election cycle. As such, he believes the recall campaign will “need a minimum of 48% more signatures collected than the actual number required to hopefully qualify for the ballot.” That would put the campaign’s minimum requirement for submission at just under 16,000.

King County Elections provided additional insight in a statement provided to MyNorthwest, clarifying that Bridger is likely referring to the 52% validation rate for Compassion Seattle’s own ballot initiative, which “was a bit low for what we normally see with petitions.”

“Our advice is typically to submit about 20-30% more signatures than you need to qualify because we typically see acceptance/validation rates closer to 80%,” King County Elections Communications Officer Halei Watkins said.

As for when the campaign intends to submit its signatures, Bridger stopped short of setting a definitive date.

“The Recall campaign will do their due diligence on behalf all voters in District 3 to ensure we have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot,” he said. “When and how we go through that process will be based on our confidence in the number of valid signatures we collect – not the whims of Councilmember Sawant.”

Kshama Solidarity intends to continue collecting signatures in the meantime, while again calling on the recall to clarify its position on a November vote on Tuesday.

“We ask the recall campaign once again: Will you turn in these signatures by the August 3 deadline to trigger a November election, or are you afraid to?” Nicholson said. “Are you afraid of a normal democratic election in November?”

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Kshama Sawant supporters say they’ve collected enough signatures for November recall vote