Tuesday, November 2

Voting So Far

First of all, if you have questions about voting here in Washington, go to the voter information website run by the Secretary of State.

Second, you'll be glad to know that virtually nothing newsworthy is happening during our election here so far. At least, nothing confirmable. The Secretary of State's office, as well as the state Republican and Democratic Parties all agree that things are going well. The worst thing so far is minor complaints called in to Republican party headquarters about poor lighting or difficulty reading ballots.

The press contact for the Secretary of State's office said that the election was in fact "running like clockwork," and that they've been getting compliments on how smoothly things are going.

Participation

It's been cold today, and periodically rainy, but that hasn't stopped high turnout with lines at polling places all over the state. This is Washington, after all, we don't shut down for rain. The Secretary of State is predicting an 84% turnout, a level of participation not seen since World War II. We've got over 400,000 new voters since 2000, a slight surge over the new registration numbers in that election year.

Over a third of Washington State's 3.5 million registered voters had already cast a ballot as of this morning. By yesterday 1.3 million absentee ballots had been received by election officials, out of 2.3 million issued this year. That number is already higher than the approximately 1.2 million absentee votes cast in 2000. According to any political party official you can get hold of, absentee voters tend to have a 70% turnout rate, so around 400,000 more should still be coming in.

If anyone's dreading the prospect of standing in line, check out this inspiring Guardian article about the observations of Florida's international election monitors.

Volunteer Efforts

According to the Democratic Coordinated Campaign figures, where efforts for all the campaigns are being handled jointly, there are around 10,000 volunteers working for the Democratic Party throughout the state. Around 4,000 of them are estimated to be in the Seattle area. Their press contact said that party offices are crowded throughout the state.

The Washington State Republican Party didn't have any figures available on how many volunteers they had out today. I was referred to the King County (Seattle area, if you're an out-of-state reader) Party, and was given an estimate of over 200 volunteers doing doorbelling and poll watching. Many of those volunteers have been participating in a 72-hour task force performing various GOTV efforts in coordination with the Bush campaign.

I had better luck with the campaigns. The Rossi campaign didn't have ready numbers, but estimated that 5,000 people were signed up in their volunteer database.

The state Bush campaign, who claimed 30,000 volunteers statewide. Their press contact described an unprecedented effort put into Washington State, saying that the party was within striking distance in what's considered a Democratic state. Even in King County, they said their numbers were way up over 2000. They said that 300,000 calls had been made over the weekend, 110,000 just yesterday. And apparently sixty thousand doors have been knocked on in the last few days.

Hmmm.

When asked if there were any problems with the voting, the Bush campaign representative I spoke to said she was "not at liberty to comment right now." Apparently, some challenges are heading to court, and she clarified when asked that she was talking about Washington State, but she couldn't tell me anything about their nature. As of the time of this posting, the Secretary of State's office hasn't heard anything about any court challenges to the voting process in Washington state.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As thrilled as I am with the election turnout, I am sorry to say that the KC Dems organization regarding the poll watching was astonishingly abysmal.

I was contacted by my district and specifically asked to volunteer as a poll watcher. Several hundred of us from all over King County showed up on the Sunday before the election for a 2 hour training session. We provided KC Dems with email addresses and cell phone #s. We were instructed to return on Monday night to get our credentials. When we showed up, people who had stayed downtown after work or made a special trip back downtown were them told that if we had been contacted by "a third party" and not Gregoire's campaign, we were not needed. One gentleman in the back said "Obama's campaign called me and now you're calling that a 'third party?'"

We were given no reason as to why the Gregoire campaign workers made this ostensibly arbitrary decision to only allow their volunteers work as poll watchers. This would have been valuable information to have BEFORE we cleared out Sunday schedules, trained for a few hours, made another trip back the next night to get credentials, and took Tuesday off of work. Despite having our contact information, no effort was made to say "Oops, we made a mistake." When we tried to get answers, we were given a rude brush-off and the "the number of volunteers this year is unprecedented" line. Please. The volunteer effort has been unprecedented all year, and yet this comes as a surprise to KC Dems 2 days before the election"? A simple announcement ora head count that first day, or anything other than wasting the time of well intentioned volunteers was in order.

If KC Dems want to continue the goodwill, they might start respecting the time and efforts of people who are trying to help.

1:40 AM  

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