AP NEWS

Voters to decide affirmative action, car tab measures

November 4, 2019
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Watcharin Photangtham carefully eyes the slot as he drops ballots for he and his husband into a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Seattle. Voters in Washington state have a crowded ballot to fill out for this week's election, with a referendum on affirmative action and an initiative on the price of car tabs among the things they are being asked to decide. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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Watcharin Photangtham carefully eyes the slot as he drops ballots for he and his husband into a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Seattle. Voters in Washington state have a crowded ballot to fill out for this week's election, with a referendum on affirmative action and an initiative on the price of car tabs among the things they are being asked to decide. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Voters in Washington state have a crowded ballot to fill out for this week’s election, with a referendum on affirmative action and an initiative on the price of car tabs among the things they are being asked to decide.

Tuesday’s election includes scores of local contests across the state, including city council and mayoral races, judicial races and two legislative seats where recent appointees face challenges as they seek election to a full term.

But the main items are two of the ballot measures.

Referendum 88 asks voters whether they want to approve or reject Initiative 1000, which was passed by the Legislature in April. I-1000 amends current statutes to allow one’s minority status to be considered as a contributing factor in state employment, contracting and admission to public colleges in universities.

Initiative 976 would lower most taxes paid through annual vehicle registration to $30 and largely revoke the authority of state and local governments to add taxes and fees without voter approval.

The measure also would repeal taxes and fees already in place, potentially costing the state and local governments more than $4 billion in revenue over the next six years, according the state Office of Financial Management.

An update to a constitutional amendment on government powers in an emergency enacted during the Cold War is also before voters.

Resolution 8200 asks voters to broaden the section on “continuity of governmental operations in periods of emergency” so that continuity is ensured not only in case of attack but also in case of “catastrophic incidents” like a massive earthquake. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled Legislature earlier this year with strong bipartisan support: 37-11 in the Senate and 91-7 in the House.

Voters are also deciding on 12 non-binding advisory votes on revenue bills approved by the Legislature earlier this year, including an increase in business and occupation taxes on large banks and a change to the state’s real estate excise tax. Those votes stem from a provision under Initiative 960, which passed in 2007. It gives the public the chance to weigh in on tax increases, even though regardless of the outcome, no changes in state law occur from the votes.

The state’s nearly 4.5 million registered voters started receiving their ballots in the mail weeks ago. Washington is an all-mail-ballot state and ballots must be postmarked or deposited in local drop boxes by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

All of the ballot-return envelopes for this and future elections are guaranteed to include prepaid postage, after the Legislature approved a measure this year.

Off year elections like this one historically have seen lower turnout in Washington state. Over the past 10 years, turnout has ranged from a low of 37 percent in 2017 to a high of about 53 percent in 2011.