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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Initiative to Change Seattle Elections Is Heading to the Ballot

SEATTLE ( Associated Press) — An initiative that will change the way Seattle mayors, city attorneys and city council members are elected leads to November’s vote.

Election officials said Wednesday that the Initiative 134 campaign, run by a group called Seattle Approvals, has garnered substantial qualifying signatures, the Seattle Times reported., Under the proposal for “acceptance voting”, a voter would be able to select multiple candidates instead of just one in each primary race.

The two candidates with the most votes in each nonpartisan race will still advance to the general election. In a general election, voters will still choose only one candidate.

The initiative required 26,520 signatures from Seattle voters and the group submitted 43,215 last month. The King County election validated 26,942.

Further processing goes to the city council, which can pass the initiative into law, send it to the ballot or send it along with a competing resolution.

Supporters say approval voting provides a more accurate picture of a voter’s views. It is designed to pursue candidates with broad appeal, and will be easy to implement.

“Seattle leaders should represent everyone,” Sarah Ward, campaign co-chair of Seattle Approves, said in a written statement Wednesday. “The Initiative will make the 134 Seattle elections as representative as possible, so that its leaders represent the entire electorate.”

Approval voting is similar to, but not the same as, rank-choice voting, which other Seattle-area reformers want to implement. With that method, voters select a number of candidates in order of preference.

Kamau Chege, executive director of the Washington Community Alliance, called Wednesday’s news “really unfortunate,” calling approval voting a subpar method and calling the Seattle campaign supported by “rich individuals” rather than historically disadvantaged groups. Chege said the initiative would constrain voter choices more than rank-choice voting.

St. Louis recently adopted approval voting. More jurisdictions use rank-choice voting, including New York City, Minneapolis and San Francisco. Portland, Oregon, will decide in November whether to adopt rank-choice voting.

According to public filings, the Seattle Approved campaign raised more than $460,000 and spent more than $323,000 through May.

The campaign’s top donor, contributing $208,000, is the Electoral Science Center, a national think tank focused on the approval voting method. Its No. 2 donor, contributing $135,000, is Samuel Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Logan Bowers and Troy Davis launch Seattle Approves. Bowers ran unsuccessfully against city council member Kshama Sawant in 2019, finishing sixth in the primary. Davis is a tech entrepreneur.

World Nation News Desk
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