Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pierce County Election Results 2009

The results from this year's election in Pierce County had a good Ranked Choice Voting race, but had RCV repealed by the voters.

In the RCV special election for Auditor, Julie Anderson received 49% of the first choices in a three-way race with sitting Auditor Jan Shabro and gladfly Will Baker. Baker came in third place and Anderson went over 50% in the second round. All of this was done in one election with no primary. The only glitch was that the Elections Department put the RCV race on a separate ballot card, thus driving up expenses for the county. But we had more candidates on the ballot in November and we saved the expense of holding a primary.

Unfortunately, there was also a measure on the ballot to repeal RCV in Pierce County. This measure passed by a large majority. It appears as if the Election Department's poor implementation soured the voters on RCV to the point, they did not want to use the system any more.

The Elections Department far over spent on systems implementation and blamed RCV for the high expenses. The Elections Department did not look for ways to leverage the investment in RCV software/hardware and thus ended up costing the county more money. The Elections Department did a poor job of educating the voters as to the benefits of RCV in terms of more candidates in November and eliminating the primary. The Elections Department understaffed the polls in 2008 and blamed the long lines at the polls on RCV.

We are disappointed especially since Anderson would have worked hard to reduce expenses and educate the voters on the benefits. Having an Auditor who wanted to make RCV work would have been a real benefit to the voters.

We want to thank everyone who supported the campaign to keep RCV in Pierce County. Your support was wonderful.

On a related front, charter amendments to extend the term limits of members of the County Council from two terms to three terms and to move the election of various county level offices from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years appear to both be failing. The failure of these two amendments, interestingly, will result in some competitive races for county council in 2010 since all three county council members who terms are expiring then will be term limited out of office.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How County Charter Amendments Seek to Rig the System

Many Pierce County voters have seen our No Rigging the System yard signs and bus signs and want to know what those signs mean.

It's very simple, really. Incumbent Pierce County politicians have put three charter amendments on this November's ballot that are designed to rig the system in their favor so that they can stay in office. These proposed amendments:

* extend their own term limits to over a decade
* reduce electoral competition and turnout by moving to odd-year elections
* double the amount of money incumbents can raise from their biggest contributors
* limit everyone else's access to the ballot by going to the state primary system

Here is an example of what we saw as recently as 2006. In that year there were five county level elections on the ballot with five incumbents running for re-election. Four of these incumbents ran unopposed and uncontested. The remaining incumbent had only token opposition. The election was decided before any of us even went to the polls!

The election in 2008 was a completely different story. In 2008, there were seven county level elections. Because of voter approved term limits and ranked choice voting, there were 22 candidates vying for those 7 seats. Voters had choices. There were competitive races. No incumbent ran unopposed.

Incumbents want the 2010 election to be just like 2006. They would like to be able to run for re-election in a "Top 1" election with no opposition. They want to rig the system in their own personal favor.

Tell the incumbents NO!

Reject all three charter amendments.

No Rigging the System.

Kelly Haughton
Citizens Against Rigging the System

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Official Top 2 Results Unavailable Until Final Certification

ALL of the results released on election night are unofficial. In fact, ALL results are unofficial until election certification.

On October 26, 2009, the Auditor's office released to the media its "General Elections Results Reporting Schedule". In the release, the Auditor's office reports that at 8:30 pm on Tuesday, November 3, they will put out results based on "absentees processed through Election Day and unofficial Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) algorithm results."

Why does the Auditor's office repeatedly refer to the RCV results as unofficial, but not the Top 2 results? She is striving to make it look like it takes longer to determine the winner of a RCV race than a Top 2 race. But this is NOT TRUE.

The Auditor's office will be releasing preliminary results based on the ballots counted through the end of each day. There will be preliminary results for the Top 2 races as well as the RCV race. ALL of these results (RCV or Top 2) will be unofficial until final certification. With some races, we will be able to safely guess who the winner will be before all of the votes are counted. In other races, we will need to count all of the votes before we know who wins. But regardless, none of the results (RCV or Top 2) are official until final certification.

Some races (both RCV and Top 2) are too close to call on election night. Indeed, the RCV race for Auditor this year just might be one of those. But the Top 2 race for Mayor of Tacoma may well be such a race as well.

Since RCV races are more likely to be competitive, they are more likely to be too close to call on election night. Competitive elections are a good thing. Uncontested Top 1 races are a bad thing, but the results are known before election night.

Some races are landslides. The RCV race for Sheriff last year was a landslide and we all knew who the winner was going to be at the first release of results. Uncontested races, such as about half of the Top 2 races in Pierce County, are always landslides. This does not make them good elections.

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Reject All 3 Charter Amendments

Reject Amendment 1:

* Stop career politicians from increasing their term limits to more than a decade
* Prevent term limit extensions by current incumbents so they can run again
* Keep even year elections when more people vote
* Save Pierce County taxpayers the cost of running a county wide election


Reject Amendment 2:

* Keep even year elections when more people vote
* Save Pierce County taxpayers the cost of running a county wide election

Reject Amendment 3:

* Keep elections competitive
* Don't let politicians double the amount of money they are able to fundraise from special interests
* Minimize mudslinging in political campaigns
* Save taxpayers the cost of having to pay for twice as many elections


Reject All Three Amendments

* All three rig the system in favor of incumbents and parties
* All three were placed on the ballot by the County Council, not the usual Charter Commission process

Number of Candidates

Below is a listing of candidates for the major offices on the ballot in Pierce County this fall. Of the 96 positions, 46 are uncontested races and 49 have just two candidates in the race. The one Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race has three candidates. RCV consistently provides voters with more choices. There has never been an uncontested RCV race in Pierce County.

Voters who want more choice should Reject Amendment 3.

Candidates for Auditor: Jan Shabro, Julie Anderson, Will Baker
Candidates for Port Commissioner #1: Connie Bacon, Bill Casper
Candidates for Port Commissioner #2: Charles Kelly Cresco, Dick Marzano
Candidates for Port Commissioner #3: Don Meyer, Cathy Pearsall-Stipek
Candidates for Auburn Mayor: Pete Lewis, Virginia Hagen
Candidates for Auburn City Council #2: Gene Cerino, John T. Partridge
Candidate for Auburn City Council #4: Nancy Backus
Candidate for Auburn City Council #6: Rich Wagner
Candidate for Bonney Lake Mayor: Neil Johnson
Candidate for Bonney Lake At Large #1: Lynda Dabson, Randy McKibbin
Candidate for Bonney Lake Ward #1: Andy Gomen, Dan Swatman
Candidate for Bonney Lake Ward #4: David Bowen, Donn M. Lewis
Candidate for Buckley Mayor: Pat Johnson
Candidate for Buckley Council: Randy Reed
Candidates for Buckley Council #2: Cristi Boyle Barrett, Marvin Sundstrom
Candidate for Buckley Council #3: Doug Harple
Candidate for Buckley Council #5: Melissa B. Patson
Candidate for Buckley Council #7: Bryan Howard, Mark McNally
Candidate for Carbonado Council #1: Sandi Carlson, Joseph E. King
Candidate for Carbonado Council #2: Kevin M. Vesey
Candidate for Dupont Council #1: Linda B. Cumberbatch, Roger Westman
Candidate for Dupont Council #2: Michael Grayum
Candidate for Dupont Council #3: John Ehrenreich
Candidate for Dupont Council #6: Jim Hills, Vicky Marin
Candidate for Dupont Council #7: Larry Wilcox, Jason Pierce
Candidates for Eatonville Mayor: Ray Harper, Brenden Pierce
Candidates for Eatonville Council #1: Gordon B. Bowman, Brian M. Gacke
Candidate for Eatonville Council #2: Robert E. Schaub
Candidate for Edgewood Council #3: Jeffery Hogan
Candidate for Edgewood Council #4: Daryl Eidinger
Candidates for Edgewood Council #5: Donna J. O'Ravez, John F. Powers
Candidates for Edgewood Council #6: Dave Olson, Colleen Wise
Candidates for Fife Council #3: Carole Sue Braaten, Glenn E. Hull, Jr.
Candidate for Fife Council #6: Nancy L. deBooy
Candidate for Fife Council #7: Donald Alveshere
Candidates for Fircrest Council #1: Chris Case, Matthew P. Jolibois
Candidates for Fircrest Council #2: Chris Gruver
Candidates for Fircrest Council #6: Hans Hechtman, Denny Waltier
Candidate for Fircrest Council #7: Kathy L. McVay
Candidate for Gig Harbor Mayor: Chuck Hunter
Candidates for Gig Harbor Council #1: Mark Hoppen, Tim Payne
Candidate for Gig Harbor Council #2: Steven K. Ekberg
Candidates for Gig Harbor Council #3: Ken Asplund, Derek M. Young
Candidate for Gig Harbor Council #7: Paul L. Kadzik
Candidates for Lakewood Council #1: Mary Moss, Darrel Shiley
Candidates for Lakewood Council #2: Mike Brandstetter, Connie Coleman Lacadie
Candidates for Lakewood Council #3: Sam Ross, Jason Whalen
Candidates for Lakewood Council #5: Doug Richardson
Candidates for Milton Mayor: Leonard Sanderson, Katrina Asay
Candidates for Milton Council #1: Terry Borek, Debra Perry
Candidates for Milton Council #2: Bart L. Taylor
Candidate for Milton Council #3: Bryan W. Ott
Candidate for Milton Councl #5: Todd Morton
Candidates for Orting Mayor: Kim Farnes, Cheryl M. Temple
Candidate for Orting Council #1: Joachim (Joe) Pestinger
Candidate for Orting Council #2: Stanley Holland
Candidate for Orting Council #3: Tyler Coughlin
Candidate for Orting Council #4: Nicola McDonald
Candidates for Orting Council #7: Scott A. Drennen, Tamara M. Potter
Candidates for Pacific Council #2: Barbara C. Lourdes, John C. Jones
Candidate for Pacific Council #4: Leanne Guier
Candidates for Pacific Council #5: Kevin M. Cline, James McMahan
Candidate for Pacific Council #7: Tren Walker
Candidate for Puyallup City Council District #1: Tony Aho, George D. Dill
Candidates for Puyallup City Council District #2: Rick Hansen, Christopher B. Taylor
Candidates for Puyallup City Council District #3: John Alexander, Kent Boyle
Candidate for Roy Mayor: Karen E. Yates
Candidate for Roy Council Position #1: Charles H. Chappell
Candidate for Roy Council Position #3: Ray Bourne
Candidate for Roy Council Position #5: Leon E. Garrison
Candidate for Ruston Mayor: Bruce Hopkins
Candidate for Ruston Council #1: Lyle Hardin
Candidate for Ruston Council #2: Deborah Kristovich
Candidate for Ruston Council #4: Bryan Ficiala, Jane Krock Hunt
Candidate for South Prarie Mayor: Peggy Levesque
Candidate for South Prarie Council #3: Dave Lykstad
Candidate for South Prarie Council #5: Laura Heideman
Candidate for Steilacoom Mayor: Ron Lucas
Candidate for Steilacoom Council #1: Lowell G. Bier
Candidate for Steilacoom Council #2: Marion V. Smith
Candidate for Steilacoom Council #3: Connie Aboubakr, Steven L. Stovall
Candidates for Sumner Mayor: Dave Enslow, Matthew Richardson
Candidates for Sumner Council #1: Ed Hannus, Stuart L. Scheuerman
Candidate for Sumner Council #2: Randy Hynek
Candidate for Sumner Council #3: Steve Allsop
Candidates for Tacoma Mayor: Jim Merritt, Marilyn Strickland
Candidates for Tacoma City Council #6: Keven Rojecki, Victoria R. Woodards
Candidates for Tacoma City Council District #2: Jake Fey
Candidates for Tacoma City Council District #4: Roxanne Murphy, Marty Campbell
Candidates for Tacoma City Council District #5: Beckie Summers Kirby, Joe Lonergan
Candidates for Tacoma Civil Service Position #1: Mark Craypo, Charles N. McKenna
Candidates for University Place Council #1: Javier Figueroa, Linda Bird
Candidates for University Place Council #3: Eric Choiniere, Lorna Smith
Candidates for University Place Council #4: Ken J. Grassi, Carl J. Mollnow
Candidates for University Place Council #5: Rose Ehart, Denise McCluskey
Candidates for Tacoma School District #2: Jerry Thorpe, Catherine Ushka-Hall

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top 2 Legal Challenge Court Date Set

The Democratic and Republican parties are challenging the current statewide primary system, known as the Top 2, in US District Court. A court date of October 4, 2010 has been set by Judge John C. Coughenour for Washington State Republican Party v State, cv-05-927.

This year in Pierce County, charter amendment 3 would move county level elections to the statewide primary system. Currently, this would mean a move to the Top 2 primary system.

If amendment 3 passes and the parties win their lawsuit, then Pierce County will be at the whim of what happens on a statewide basis. The last time the Top 2 was thrown out, the legislature gave us the pick-a-party primary as our statewide primary system.

Don't put us at the whim of the state legislature.

Reject amendment 3.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bad Ballot Design Costs Taxpayers and Voters in Pierce County

The Pierce County Elections Department sent out ballots to voters this past weekend. Due to poor ballot design, voters received two ballot cards with much wasted space. Using two ballot cards drove up the expense of the fall general election by $600,000 in printing, postage and paper costs. It also drives up the return postage cost to voters from a regular stamp to "approximately" $0.61. This poor design appears to be politically motivated by Auditor Jan Shabro.

Shabro wants to repeal Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and blames RCV for having to use two ballot cards. She then allocates all of the cost of going to two ballot cards to RCV.

Shabro was so intent on discrediting RCV that she designed a ballot with blank sides and empty columns. Meanwhile, she proposed other cost savings measures such as closing the polls and reducing the number of words her opponents received in the voters’ pamphlet. These measures provided a small fraction of the savings possible by better ballot design.

If her department had done a better job of designing the ballot, it would have fit all into one card. But then the Auditor would not have been able to complain about the cost of RCV. In fact, she would have been forced to admit that RCV saved money relative to the Top 2 in 2009.

Good ballot design and cost savings should come before political motivations.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Julie Anderson - First Choice for Auditor

In the special election for Pierce County Auditor, our first choice is Julie Anderson, second choice is Jan Shabro and third choice is Will Baker.

Julie Anderson, current Deputy Mayor of Tacoma, has promised to manage expenses aggressively, cutting down on election expenses in particular. We like Anderson's experience and can do approach to the job. Anderson is our first choice. Jan Shabro, the current Auditor, has done such a poor job of managing expenses in her brief time in office that we can only list her as the second choice. Will Baker is a perennial candidate who would be a disaster as an Auditor. He, therefore, is our last choice.

Yesterday, I received my ballot for this election in the mail. There were two ballot cards in the package, both with huge amounts of wasted space. Of course, there were big unnecessary printing, postage and paper expenses associated with this ballot design. These large expenses were incurred while the Auditor's office was focused on relatively small expense reductions associated with reducing the number of words in the candidate statements and closing the polls. Shabro's poor leadership on this issue means she can not be our first choice.

Fortunately, Anderson is advocating aggressively managing vendor expenses to save money for the county. Anderson is also more willing to accept ideas from experts outside of her own group of associates. Searching more broadly for ideas on how to save money is generally going to allow you to accomplish this task more effectively. We enthusiastically endorse Julie Anderson as our first choice.


Tacoma News Tribune recommends Rejection of Charter Amendment 3

The Tacoma News Tribune has decided to recommend the rejection of Pierce County Charter Amendment 3. The News Tribune recommendation comes on the heals of the Seattle Times' recommendation of rejection and the League of Women Voter's similar position.

Of course, this website has endorsed the rejection of Charter Amendment 3 as well. This amendment was hastily put on the ballot by a county council looking to reduce competition in their runs for re-election. We encourage voters to examine the Protect Voter Choice website to make informed decision on this issue.

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Pierce County voters should keep ranked-choice voting

The Seattle Times recommends a No vote on Pierce County Charter Amendment 3, which would repeal ranked-choice voting (instant runoff voting).

PIERCE County voters should not throw out ranked-choice voting in the Nov. 3 election. It is a new and promising system, and it has hardly had a chance to prove itself.

Charter Amendment 3, which would repeal ranked-choice voting, is a reflex action by politicians who didn't like it responding to voters who weren't used to it.

They cannot say it didn't work. In the county executive race a year ago, four candidates were on the ballot. Voters were asked to pick their first, second and third choices. Sean Bunney, Republican, got the most first-choice votes. Under the system, Mike Lonergan, who got the fewest, was knocked out, and his voters were reassigned to the others based on second choices. Still Bunney was ahead, but when Calvin Goings was knocked out and his voters were reassigned, Pat McCarthy was the winner. All this knocking-out and reassigning happened instantly once the votes were counted.

In this case, the top-two system would have given the same result. In Seattle's mayoral race, ranked-choice might have given a different result. It would be a result that more clearly reflected the people's choices, because a ranked-choice ballot asks for, and uses, more information than an ordinary ballot does.

Ranked-choice voting is used in Australia, San Francisco and soon to be used in Minneapolis, but it is not otherwise used in the Pacific Northwest. It does require smarter voters than an ordinary ballot, but we think Pierce County voters are up to it.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

King County and the Top 1

King County has five County Council seats up for election this year. There are five incumbents running for re-election in this odd-numbered year election. Four of the five incumbents are running in uncontested elections. Krist Novoselic, Chair of FairVote, observes that the members of the King County Council have achieved incumbent nirvana, the Top 1.

The incumbent members of the Pierce County Council must surely view this with envy. They have sponsored a series of charter amendments which will have the net effect of moving Pierce County towards this incumbent nirvana. Voters are not confused by multiple candidates. The results are known before the election occurs. Incumbents stay in office as long as they want without competition.

Reject all three charter amendments. No rigging the system.

Voters want choices. The Top 1 is not democracy.