Election Day is a bit of a misnomer, especially here in Washington. Though political experts will undoubtedly call states for certain candidates tonight, vote tallies won't actually get certified for days and even weeks. The coronavirus pandemic has meant more absentee ballots and more uncertainty about the timeline for receiving election results. When will our count be officially official? Here's the answer to that and some other questions that may come up in your living room or group chat in the coming days.
When did Washington state adopt its current vote-by-mail system?
Were we the first state to do so?
No, Oregon was (sigh). But we were second.
With a decade of mail-in votes under our belts, then, will Washington wrap up its count before other states?
For the most part, no. Washington state law gives election officials three weeks to finalize the tally; most states will declare a winner much sooner, even with more absentee ballots received due to Covid-19. In 2016, Washington needed its entire certification period to verify the count, with 64 percent of ballots coming in by election night, according to the secretary of state's office. The state has already surpassed that number, but ballot processors will inevitably experience some hang-ups, such as signatures on ballot envelopes that don't match those on voters' registration forms (voters then have until November 23 to fix them). The good news? Washington shouldn't be holding its breath as results are entered, at least when it comes to the presidential election. Election forecasters project a landslide victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in our state.
How badly did Trump lose here in 2016, anyway?
Pretty badly. In that election, Hillary Clinton won 52.5 percent of the Washington vote and 69.8 percent of King County's; Trump drew 36.8 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
Did he win every county outside of the Puget Sound region?
No. Clinton edged out Trump in Whitman County and Clark County. But yes, Trump triumphed throughout the eastern part of the state.
Where can we find some suspense?
Beyond tracking Referendum No. 90 (the sex-ed bill), keep an eye on the race for Washington's 3rd congressional district. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, the incumbent, is the only Republican currently holding a district that borders the Pacific Ocean in Washington, Oregon, or California. Her opponent, Democrat Carolyn Long, has about an 18 percent shot of flipping that House seat, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Also, if you're looking for something to brag about, the state and county have voter turnout records in their sights. Both are hoping to reach 90 percent.
That's something everyone in your circle can get behind.