Elections

Here’s what to watch as Washington voters cast their midterm election ballots

Pierce County Auditor says turnout ‘already exceeding expectations’ for midterm election

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson talks about the big turnout this year and what to do with a your ballot if it hasn't been counted yet.
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Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson talks about the big turnout this year and what to do with a your ballot if it hasn't been counted yet.

The crowded Washington state ballot for Tuesday’s election includes four initiatives, 10 congressional races, a U.S. Senate seat and more than 100 legislative contests.

Here are the highlights:

CARBON TAX AMONG HIGH-PROFLE MEASURES

Initiative 1631 would charge large carbon emitters fees on fossil fuels used or sold in the state or electricity generated within the state starting in 2020. Opponents have raised more than $31 million, mostly from oil companies, a state record for statewide initiatives, to fight the proposal.

Voters also will decide the fate of I-1639, which toughens background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles; Initiative 1634, backed by the soda industry, would prohibit local governments from imposing new taxes on soda or grocery items; and Initiative 940, a measure designed to improve police training in de-escalation tactics and eliminate a requirement that prosecutors prove officers acted with malice in order to get a conviction in negligent shootings.

DEMS LOOK TO FLIP GOP SEATS

The hotly contested open seat in the 8th Congressional District has been one of the costliest in the nation as Democrats see a potential pickup that could help determine control of the U.S. House. Dr. Kim Schrier, a Democrat and pediatrician, and Republican Dino Rossi, a former state senator who had previous unsuccessful runs for governor and the U.S. Senate, are vying to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.

More than $25 million has poured into the 8th District race, with most coming from outside groups.

In the 5th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces Democrat Lisa Brown, a former chancellor of Washington State University who previously served as majority leader in the state Senate. In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University’s campus in Vancouver.

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CANTWELL THE FAVORITE IN SENATE CONTEST

Former state GOP chairwoman Susan Hutchison is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, a three-term incumbent. Public polling has shown Cantwell with a comfortable lead as she seeks her fourth term.

STATE LEGISLATURE

All 98 seats in the state House are up for election, and voters will decide 25 of the Senate’s 49 seats. While Democrats hold most statewide offices in Washington, the political split in the Legislature is much narrower: Democrats currently hold a one-seat advantage in the Senate and a two-seat advantage in the House.

Democrats are hoping to expand their margins.

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