Group seeking to change how Seattle voting works builds large early war chest

Jan 23, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 7:19 am

ballot, napkin vote, approval voting...

Voting pins and stickers lie next to a ballot box at the King County Elections processing center in Renton, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A push to dramatically alter the way Seattle votes in primary elections is already getting significant financial support, having taken in nearly $193,000 in contributions over the last three months.

With deadlines looming, King County hits pause on push for ranked choice voting

In a standard Seattle primary, voters select one candidate in each race. But a group known as Seattle Approves wants to change that with a method known as “approval voting,” which would allow someone to vote for as many candidates as they want.

Proponents argue that it makes for a system that better represents what people want in any given election, particularly in races where more moderate candidates are jockeying for position among opponents with flashier, more extreme messaging. The end result, they argue, is slate of candidates that each have to appeal to a wider base of voters.

“Councilmembers can win their primary elections with 25% of the vote, maybe 30%,” Seattle Approves Co-Founder Logan Bower told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show last December. “They only need a tiny base in the city to get through the primary election.”

“Under approval voting, that just doesn’t cut it anymore,” he added. “When you can get support from multiple constituencies, you might need need 60% approval to clear a primary.”

Seattle Approves hopes to put the decision over whether to adopt the new method to voters in this November’s election with a ballot initiative. With signature-gathering efforts having yet to begin in earnest, the group has already gathered a sizable war chest. That’s buoyed by a series of donations from the California-based Center for Election Science (CES), totaling over $165,000.

King County district to use one-of-a-kind smartphone voting for third year

The push for approval voting in Seattle is prominently featured on the CES website as well, with the organization currently displaying a banner at the top of its homepage describing the city as “the new frontier for approval voting.”

CES functions as a nonprofit think tank that funds “grassroots groups” in cities across the United States to build local-level support for approval voting.

“The end goal is for chapters to build support in their communities and eventually launch their own ballot initiative campaigns or successfully lobby their local governments to implement approval voting,” the CES website states.

Seattle Approves will need to gather over 26,000 verified signatures over a 180-day period in order to get its proposal on the ballot.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Whatcom County homeless deaths are increasing, according to a report from the Opportunity Co...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Report: Whatcom County deaths of unhoused people on pace for record amount

More people are dying on the streets of Whatcom County. Opportunity Council said there have been 56 documented deaths this year.

2 hours ago

Photo: Pierce County deputies have reported an office-involved shooting....

Julia Dallas

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reports officer-involved shooting

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department has reported a shooting involving an officer took place on Monday.

4 hours ago

Photo: King County deputies seized more than a dozen guns after making two arrests in May....

Julia Dallas

King County deputies make arrests; seize nearly 30 pounds of drugs, 18 firearms, flame thrower

King County deputies made two arrests leading to the seizure of more than 25 pounds of drugs and more than a dozen firearms.

4 hours ago

Photo: The Washington State Patrol is cracking down on people who cut in ferry lines....

James Lynch

Don’t be that person: State troopers fine ferry line cutters $145

Have you ever been frustrated by a driver who cut in line at a ferry terminal? Now the Washington State Patrol is cracking down.

6 hours ago

Photo: A deputy's body camera captured a runaway wallaby in Parkland....

Julia Dallas

Runaway wallaby hops out of arms reach of deputies in Parkland

 A wallaby was caught on camera running around Parkland Sunday morning. Pierce County deputies and WSP responded.

7 hours ago

seattle sex trafficking...

Frank Sumrall

Seattle resident arrested for sex trafficking in San José

A San José special operations unit arrested a Seattle resident last week on suspicion of alleged commercial sex trafficking.

11 hours ago

Group seeking to change how Seattle voting works builds large early war chest