Uphold Electoral College in presidential elections

November 27, 2012

Nitin Shyamkumar Skyline High School

The Electoral College tends to receive a substantial amount of criticism. I don’t dispute that the criticisms are valid; what I do question is whether popular vote is preferable to a system that has existed since 1788.

The Electoral College preserves the purpose of a state as an entity. In the event of popular vote, the states as legal entities are no longer necessary for presidential elections. It is this preservation of the purpose of the state that contributes to maintaining federalism.

Similarly, the Electoral College contributes to the cohesion of the nation by requiring a distribution of the popular vote. The Electoral College requires a candidate to win a majority of the vote in a majority of the states. Interestingly enough, it has compelled presidential candidates over the years to choose vice presidential candidates that would “balance the ticket.”

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Switch to popular vote for presidential elections

November 27, 2012

Salma Mahmoud
Skyline High School

Before the recent election, I heard too many adults say that they wouldn’t be hitting the polls since they believe their vote “doesn’t really matter.” However, that is only true on a national basis. On a state basis, the popular vote does essentially mean the electoral vote. Though many might appreciate this system, I believe that the idea of “winner-takes-all” is simply unfair.

For example, though the state of Washington has voted for Democrats in past elections, there are still Republicans living here. Why do their votes essentially “not matter?” Is it fair to let the voices of a smaller population be drowned out by the popular opinion? The same goes for Democrats living in a historically red state. Shouldn’t their votes go toward something?

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Issaquah drop box buzzes as voters return ballots, shatter records

November 13, 2012

Cathy Gulezian, of Maple Valley (left), watches sons Brady, 2, and Dylan, 4, place ballots for her and husband Ken in a ballot drop box attended by King County Elections workers Michele Phelps and Jon Gentry at Issaquah City Hall on Nov. 6. By Greg Farrar

The ballot drop box outside Issaquah City Hall transformed into a nucleus of activity as Election Day stretched into night, and voters raced to deposit ballots before the 8 p.m. deadline.

King County Elections staffers, dressed in aprons the same shade as traffic cones, directed voters to the secure box. The elections office opened the box last month and, as the ballot deadline approached and after post offices closed, more and more ballot-toting voters arrived.

“Unlike during tax season, the post office does not stay open longer hours for voting,” Lynne Miller, a King County Elections spokeswoman, said just before 7 p.m. Nov. 6.

Elections staffers used atomic clocks to determine the precise 8 p.m. deadline at ballot drop box sites countywide.

King County Elections forecast 87 percent turnout countywide — a hike from the 84 percent record set in 2008. (The county relied on a combination of mail ballots and polling sites in the last presidential election.)

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Off the Press

November 13, 2012

Campaign tests candidates’ — and voters’ — mettle

Warren Kagarise
Press reporter

Throughout campaign season, as the insults zinged back and forth across screens and in mailboxes, I often hoped for Election Day to arrive as soon as possible.

But now, as the election recedes into memory I feel wistful, maybe even a little nostalgic.

Though the process often degraded the candidates and, in the process, voters, I found the contenders dedicated and focused on the task at hand.

Candidates knock on thousands of doors in the run-up to Election Day, a process referred to in candidate-speak as doorbelling. The exercise tests the candidates’ mettle and offers voters a grassroots introduction to the person behind the political sign.

Besides the usual pitfalls — unfriendly dogs, voters pretending not to be home — everybody on the doorbelling circuit, state Sen. Steve Litzow told me in a pre-election interview, encountered at least one naked voter at the door.

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Students choose Barack Obama, Jay Inslee in mock election

November 13, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 13, 2012

Students statewide and in the Issaquah School District chose the same candidates as grown-up voters — Barack Obama for president and Jay Inslee for governor.

The exercise included 38,848 students statewide, including classes at Cascade Ridge Elementary, Endeavour Elementary, Sunset Elementary, Pine Lake Middle and Issaquah High schools in the Issaquah School District. The number of students participating statewide shattered the record for participation — about 18,000 students — set in 2008.

Students cast ballots online from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, and then Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office posted the results online. The results in the statewide Student Mock Election reflected the outcome in the real election, albeit with different margins.

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King County voters return ballots, shatter records

November 6, 2012

Cathy Gulezian, of Maple Valley (left), watches sons Brady, 2, and Dylan, 4, place ballots for her and husband Ken in a ballot drop box attended by King County Elections workers Michele Phelps and Jon Gentry at Issaquah City Hall. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 7 p.m. Nov. 6, 2012

The ballot drop box outside Issaquah City Hall transformed into a nucleus of activity as Election Day stretched into night, and voters raced to deposit ballots before the 8 p.m. deadline.

King County Elections staffers, dressed in aprons the same shade as traffic cones, directed voters to the secure box. The elections office opened the box last month and, as the ballot deadline approached and after post offices closed, more and more ballot-toting voters arrived.

“Unlike during tax season, the post office does not stay open longer hours for voting,” said Lynne Miller, a King County Elections spokeswoman.

Staffers plan to use atomic clocks to determine the precise 8 p.m. deadline at ballot drop box sites countywide. If a line forms for a drop box, voters in line at 8 p.m., can still submit ballots.

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King County Elections opens accessible voting centers

November 6, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 6, 2012

King County Elections opened additional accessible voting centers to enable voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot.

Officials said voting by mail is the easiest and most accessible choice for many people, but some voters have difficulty filling out mail ballots. The accessible voting centers provide voters the opportunity to vote on touchscreen accessible voting units. The units also offer specialized equipment such as audio and large and high-contrast text options.

The closest accessible voting center to Issaquah is at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E. Other locations include Green River Community College, North Seattle Community College and Seattle Union Station, plus the elections office in Renton.

The centers open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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Costco looms large in race between Barack Obama, Mitt Romney

October 30, 2012

Pundits claim the presidential contest could hinge on so-called Walmart moms, but another discount chain is often mentioned on the campaign trail, too.

Jim Sinegal

Both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney embraced Issaquah-based Costco on the stump, albeit for different reasons.

Support from Costco cofounder and former CEO Jim Sinegal allows Obama to highlight a business success in a feeble economy. The affluent Romney’s affinity for Costco allows the former Massachusetts governor to project a more down-to-earth image.

“Costco’s story is the American story,” Sinegal proclaimed to delegates and dignitaries in a September speech at the Democratic National Convention focused on job creation and the economy.

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Pragmatism defines Issaquah, Eastside voters

October 30, 2012

Local voters could choose a Democrat for the White House, a Republican for the Governor’s Mansion and split legislative seats between the parties.

Experts said voters in Issaquah and the Eastside prefer a brand of politics anchored in pragmatism, rather than party. The effort to appeal to moderate voters is intense as candidates scrounge for votes in the last days before Election Day.

“Democrats and Republicans both get elected there. I think of it as a pragmatic, rather than ideological, sort of politics, which is what Washington state used to be known for,” independent Seattle pollster Stuart Elway said. “I think the state as a whole has gotten more partisan, as the country has, and the party lines seem to have gotten harder.”

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Issaquah students cast ballots in mock elections

October 30, 2012

The minimum age to vote is 18, but the hurdle did not stop students throughout the Issaquah School District from casting ballots in the tight races for president and governor.

Educators on local campuses organized mock elections or joined the annual Student Mock Election overseen by the state elections office to educate students about the importance of participation in the political process.

Students at Issaquah and Tiger Mountain Community high schools, Issaquah Middle School, and Creekside, Endeavour and Sunny Hills elementary schools cast ballots in ersatz elections or plan to do so by the actual Election Day, Nov. 6.

Teachers involved in the mock elections said the exercise is about more than determining whether students support Jay Inslee or Rob McKenna for governor.

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