1. Many elections will be decided by a few hundred votes: If the past is any indication, several elections this year will be decided by only a few hundred votes or less. Since 2008, 14 races have been decided by less than 1,000 votes and 8 by less than 500 votes. In 2012 a state Senate race was decided by only 78 votes.
2. A California billionaire is trying to influence Washington State elections: Tom Steyer is a billionaire from California, a friend of Gov. Jay Inslee, and very interested in Washington’s legislative races. He has committed at least $1 million to defeating legislators he sees as obstacles to accomplishing his environmental goals.
3. That billionaire is spending most of his money turning out voters, not on commercials: While there is no shortage of negative campaigning (is there ever?), Tom Steyer is not spending most of his money on advertising. Instead, he has hired people to walk the streets of the districts he is interested and identify which voters will vote the way he wants and which ones won’t. Then, his money will be used to hire additional people to make sure the people he wants to vote actually do.
4. To win, a candidate will need about 15% of the district to vote for him/her: Only 66% of the people in the typical legislative district are eligible to vote. Only 44% are registered to vote and only 29% vote in a typical mid-term election. That means, the winning candidate needs approximately 15% of the district to vote for him/her in order to win.
5. You can find out if your friends and family have voted before the election is over: For the first time in Washington State history, it is now possible to find out if your friends and family have voted from your home on the internet. This makes it easier than ever to make sure people who think like you are well represented in the election. To see if your friends and family have voted, visit www.fpiw.org/votefinder.
6. You can get your voter guide by texting your zip code to 77039: FPIW has created an exciting voter guide that reveals candidates’ positions on issues, who they are endorsed by, and who they are getting money from.
7. There are two gun initiatives on the ballot: There are two initiatives on this year’s ballot deal with gun rights, I-594 & I-591. Both have to do with what is required in order to transfer ownership of a firearm. I-594 is sponsored by gun control groups and I-591 is sponsored by groups that claim to support the rights of gun owners, though there is dispute within the gun rights community over whether it is actually helpful. For information on those initiatives and other ballot issues you can click here.
8. There are no statewide candidates on the ballot: This year, there are no races involving candidates running for statewide office (U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, etc…). This makes it likely that voter turnout will be lower than expected.
9. The current majority in the House of Representatives was decided by less than 5,000 votes: The Washington State House of Representatives currently has 55 Democrats and 43 Republicans. The total number of votes separating the closest 6 races in 2012 that could have changed the balance of power in the House of Representatives was 5,000.
10. Some Elections won’t be decided for days…maybe weeks: Washington is a mail-in ballot state. However, it is not necessary that ballots be received by Election Day, only that they be post-marked by Election Day. This means that in the closest elections, it could be weeks before the final ballots have been tallied and weeks more if recounts are necessary.