It’s Election Day in Washington — and it’s not too late to vote

Voters across the state have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to choose new local leaders, including seven of nine Seattle City Council seats.

election worker opening ballot envelopes

Ballots are taken out of envelopes at the King County Elections Office in Renton on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Voters across Washington – and across the nation – will be choosing new local leaders on Tuesday, including a consequential election in Seattle where seven of nine City Council seats are up for grabs.

People have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to fill out a ballot and leave it in a drop box. Although ballots can also be mailed, they must be postmarked by a U.S. Post Office by 8 p.m. Tuesday in order to be counted, so it’s a safer bet to use a drop box for Election Day voting.

While every local municipality has its own priorities, homelessness and public safety have been topics of debate in many of Washington’s local elections this year. A large projected budget shortfall and intense discussions about housing affordability are also up for debate in Seattle.

Fourteen candidates are vying to represent Seattle’s seven City Council districts. They express fairly broad support for hiring more police officers (something voters have stated a preference for as well), but offer important differences in how they want to address other aspects of public safety, homelessness and housing.

Equally important: a divide in how candidates think Seattle should pay for programs and services, with a more conservative-leaning slate calling for budget cuts and a more progressive-leaning slate interested in new taxes on wealthy residents or businesses.

In the lead-up to Election Day, more than $1.3 million in PAC spending has poured into Seattle via TV and web ads, campaign mailers and more. Of that, more than $1.1 million has come primarily from business and real estate interests spending on behalf of the more-conservative and centrist slate. Unions and progressive groups have spent more than $230,000 through PACs.

You can find all of Crosscut’s Seattle elections coverage here, including deep dives into each candidates’ policies and promises.

Voters in a number of cities and counties are also considering ballot initiatives, including a tenants’ rights proposal in Tacoma, a minimum-wage hike and tenant protections in Bellingham and a nearly $1 billion property tax levy in Seattle to pay for affordable-housing construction. 

One of the hottest races statewide is on the other side of the state, where Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward faces a contentious and expensive challenge from Lisa Brown, the former head of the state Commerce Department and a longtime legislator representing Spokane. The two candidates have spent nearly $1 million in the race, plus outside campaign organizations have spent another $400,000, mostly in favor of the incumbent or against Brown.

The Crosscut voter guide has more information about all these races, plus candidate responses to questions from our readers about some of the issues most important to them. Crosscut will be posting election results here after the first ballots are counted and reported around 8 p.m.

It’s not too late to vote, as ballots can be dropped off at drop boxes in every county until 8 p.m. or mailed, without a stamp, as long as they are postmarked by 8 p.m. and not just dropped in a mailbox. You can also vote in person on Election Day at your county election office or a special voting location set up by your county.

The state will even help you find your county elections office, which is where you can also register to vote on Election Day if you are an American citizen; 18 or older; not currently in prison on a felony conviction or disqualified from voting by a court order; and have lived in Washington at least 30 days prior to the election.

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