Oct 21, 2022 - Politics

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Washington state

Illustration of a white podium changing into a voting booth and then changing into three campaign signs, over a divided red and blue background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election Day is Nov. 8. Here's what you need to know about how to vote and what's on the ballot in Washington state.

Why it matters: Control of Congress is at stake in this year's midterm elections, as is a potential change in who oversees Washington's mail-in voting system.

Voting in Washington state
  • You can register to vote or update your address online or by mail through Oct. 31.
  • After that, registration changes can be made in person at any election office or voting center through 8pm on Nov. 8.
  • Ballots must be postmarked or returned to an official ballot dropbox by 8pm on Election Day to be counted.
  • Ballots will be mailed to registered voters by Oct. 21. If you need to request a new ballot, contact your county election office.
Secretary of state: Steve Hobbs (D) vs. Julie Anderson (nonpartisan)
Photo illustration of Steve Hobbs tinted blue and Julie Anderson tinted purple separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios. Photos: Courtesy of the Hobbs and Anderson campaigns
  • Republicans have won every secretary of state's race in Washington for the past 58 years — but this time, they're not even on the ballot.
  • Nonpartisan candidate Julie Anderson, Pierce County's auditor, edged out a field of GOP candidates in the August primary, ensuring that no Republicans advanced to the general election.
  • She is trying to unseat Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the position last year when Republican Kim Wyman resigned to take a job in the Biden administration.
  • The secretary of state oversees elections, runs the state archives, and registers corporations and charities, among other duties.

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U.S. Senate: Patty Murray (D) vs. Tiffany Smiley (R)
Photo illustration of Patty Murray, tinted blue, and Tiffany Smiley, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Sen. Patty Murray (left) and Tiffany Smiley. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Bill Clark, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has been in office for 30 years, and her Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley says that's too long.
  • Smiley, a former triage nurse who has advocated for injured veterans, has run ads criticizing Murray for not doing enough to combat crime in Seattle.
  • Murray's campaign, meanwhile, has criticized Smiley's past anti-abortion comments, including her support of Texas' restrictive abortion ban, as being out of step with the views of Washington voters.

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8th Congressional District: Matt Larkin (R) vs. Kim Schrier (D)
Photo illustration of Kim Schriel, tinted blue, and Matt Larkin, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Bill Clark/Getty Images, and courtesy of the campaign of Matt Larkin
  • The race in Washington's 8th Congressional District could prove pivotal in the battle for control of the U.S. House this year. It's the state's only congressional race that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report lists as a toss-up.
  • Incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier, a pediatrician elected to represent the district east of Seattle in 2018, is defending her seat against Matt Larkin, a lawyer who works with his family's manufacturing business.

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3rd Congressional District: Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D) vs. Joe Kent (R)
Photo illustration of Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican Joe Kent
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Courtesy of Marie Gluesenkamp Perez's campaign, Nathan Howard/Getty Images
  • The current officeholder in this district, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, lost in the Republican primary to Joe Kent after being one of 10 Republicans nationwide to support the impeachment of former President Trump.
  • Trump-endorsed Kent cited Beutler's impeachment vote as one of his key reasons for jumping into the race.
  • Kent, a former Green Beret from Yacolt, has said he believes the 2020 election was stolen and wants to impeach President Biden.
  • The Democrat in the race, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, lives in rural Skamania County and runs an auto shop with her husband. She has criticized Kent as being an extremist who would restrict women's abortion rights. She also disagrees with his plan to stop issuing work visas to immigrants, which she said would amount to "economic sabotage."

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King County prosecutor: Jim Ferrell (D) vs. Leesa Manion (D)
Photo Illustration of Jim Ferrell and Leesa Manion.
Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photos courtesy of both campaigns
  • The retirement of King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg means the state's largest county will have a new lead lawyer for the first time in 15 years.
  • Competing to fill the open seat are Leesa Manion, Satterberg's chief of staff who has worked in the office for nearly three decades, and Jim Ferrell, the current Federal Way mayor who spent 16 years as a King County deputy prosecutor.
  • The two candidates have clashed over their support for the county's juvenile diversion programs, among other issues. Ferrell has said he would take a harder line when it comes to prosecuting felonies among juveniles, while Manion has said the county's current youth diversion programs significantly reduce recidivism.

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Ranked choice voting vs. approval voting
Illustration of a thumbs up and a thumbs down with ballot elements in the background.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Seattle voters are being asked to choose between two new methods of voting for citywide races.

  • Under one of the options, approval voting, voters could select all candidates they approve of in the August primary election. The two candidates who get the most total votes in the primary would advance to a one-on-one race in November.
  • Under ranked-choice voting, the other option, primary voters would be able to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be eliminated.
  • For voters who chose the eliminated candidate, their ballot will be transferred to their second choice candidate. That process would repeat until only two candidates remain. Those two would advance to the November election.
  • Either reform if enacted would apply only to August primary races for Seattle city council, city attorney, and the mayor's office.
  • Voters can also choose to reject both proposed reforms and leave voting the way it's been.

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Abortion and inflation on the ballot
Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios
  • Abortion is proving to be a major issue in races for the state legislature as well as Congress, following the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • Democrats expect outrage over the abortion ruling will hurt Republicans in November, although GOP officials are taking steps to try to neutralize the issue.
  • Republican candidates, meanwhile, are hammering Democrats over inflation, high gas prices and crime.

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