How you helped steer our 2022 voter guide

We asked readers which Washington state races and initiatives to cover for the general election. What did we miss?

ballots being sorted

King County Elections employees sort ballots at election headquarters in Renton, Oct. 29, 2018. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

When Crosscut reached out to me three years ago about the possibility of coming to work in this nonprofit newsroom, I wasn’t certain what they hoped to learn from me, an older and very traditional journalist. But I liked the idea of learning from this enterprising organization and signed on.

A major way my thinking has shifted is around audience engagement. I was taught that journalists are the people’s conduits who help them get the information they need and keep an eye on those in power, on behalf of everyone else. But until recently, I never asked the people what they wanted to know. I decided for them. And I think I did a pretty good job of that, but it just isn’t the same as asking your readers directly.

So when we started to take a “citizens agenda” approach to covering the election, I was sure I already knew what the people wanted and humored my audience-engagement teammates by going through the steps of asking. But I was also doing my best to keep an open mind. And then our readers started reaching out through emails and Hearken messages, and I very gradually changed my perspective. 

This week offers evidence that I have adopted this new approach: Crosscut’s 2022 Voter Guide. Or, as I am starting to call it, the crowd-sourced voter guide. After the primary, I invited our readers to share their review of our voter guide and what other races we should have included. We started building the General Election guide with the feedback I received from our readers, adding new races and ballot items.

Voter Guide Washington State 2022

Before we launched to the general public, we asked readers of our Elections Newsletter to beta-test the site. A new flood of emails arrived from people who felt we had left out some essential races and ballot issues. Yesterday we added four new legislative races and a ballot initiative to the site. More emails arrived last night, and we will try to keep updating.

The voter guide is a public service, and the public should direct our efforts. But we have only so much time and resources to make that happen. Journalism is expensive. Thanks to our members and other supporters, our newsroom is growing, not shrinking like some other outlets. But we don’t have the money to create a truly statewide voter guide, or poll as broadly as readers have said they want us to. If you’re not a Crosscut member, please consider becoming one. Your donations will help us to keep expanding our voter guide, conduct deeper polling for future elections, and continue our in-depth political coverage of races that matter to Washingtonians. 

I’ll end this essay with an excerpt from the reader email that inspired me to give up my Thursday plans and just focus on adding more information to the voter guide.

After the soft launch of the voter guide, Laura Walker wrote to remind me that she has been advocating for more coverage of Kitsap County elections. She said her local paper’s coverage was inadequate, there were no debates or town-hall events, and definitely no coverage in other Seattle media. 

People from the Seattle area are moving to Kitsap County, attracted by more affordable housing. “As a result, the county is facing new issues around development, as well as continuing issues around climate change, homelessness, mental health, K-12 and higher education challenges, among others,” Walker wrote.

“We could really use more and better coverage of our elections,” she said. Our team works hard to provide you with the independent coverage you need before casting your ballot. I’m going to keep trying to do what our readers ask and I hope you will keep asking (and supporting Crosscut). We have ambitious plans to be an essential statewide news organization. Thanks for helping.

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