Today is the last day to submit ballots in this year’s Washington State’s General Election.
In Whatcom County, ballots were mailed on Oct. 13, for a total of 156,966 registered voters as of Nov. 1. Over 43 thousand ballots have already been returned with just eight more hours left until poll closures.
Last-minute voter registrations can be made at the Whatcom County Courthouse at 311 Grand Avenue in Bellingham by 8pm where registration updates and replacement ballots can also be obtained. Here is a list of Ballot Drop Off Locations in Whatcom.
Students and members of the public can also get help with registration and filling out ballots by visiting the Associated Students Voter Hub in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room until 8 pm today.
So far, 51.5% of voters in Whatcom County older than 65 have returned their ballots. For people 18-24, the number is 8.6%.
What's on the ballot?
County Council At-Large Position
- Barry Buchanan (incumbent)
- Kamal Bhachu
County Council District 1 (South Bellingham)
- Kaylee Galloway
- Eddy Ury
County Council District 2 (North Bellingham)
- Todd Donovan (incumbent)
- Kelley O'Connor
County Council District 3 (Foothills)
- Tyler Byrd (incumbent)
- Rebecca Lewis
Port of Bellingham
Two Port of Bellingham Commissioner positions are also up for election in District 1 and 2. District 1 encompasses Bellingham’s Waterfront and the southern part of Whatcom County while District 2 represents North Bellingham, Lynden and the inner county.
Commissioner District 1
- Michael Shepard (incumbent)
- John Huntley
Commissioner District 2
- Ken Bell (incumbent)
- Kelly Krieger
In Bellingham, five positions are to be decided by the city’s electorate, with four city council positions on the ballot and one judicial office.
Municipal Court Judge
Debra Lev (current Municipal Court Judge)
Council Ward 2
Council Ward 4
Council Ward 6
Michael Lilliquist (incumbent)
- Kristina Michele Martens
- Russ Whidbee
Along with these offices and positions, Whatcom County and Bellingham residents will also be asked to decide whether they approve of the following propositions, which aim to change the required number of signatures for initiative propositions and Charter amendments. Here are the descriptions of the propositions form the WA Voter Guide:
Whatcom County, Proposition 2021-13
On May 4, 2021, the Whatcom County Council passed Ordinance 2021-032, which proposed to amend Charter sections 5.40 and 5.41—the percentage of signatures necessary for initiatives and mini-initiatives—subject to a vote of the people. If passed, these amendments would change the number of signatures required for an initiative from at least 8% of Whatcom County votes cast in the last election for governor to at least 8% of votes cast in the last regular county executive election. For a mini-initiative, the number of signatures required would change from at least 3% of Whatcom County votes cast in the last election for governor to 3% of votes cast in the last regular county executive election.
City of Bellingham, Proposition 2021-16
City of Bellingham Proposed Charter Amendment No. 2021-01 would reduce the number of signatures required to amend the Charter. This amendment would change the method for calculating the number of signatures required to amend the Charter by the petition method. Currently, petitioners must obtain signatures from at least 15% of the total number of votes cast in the last preceding general state election. This amendment would require petitioners to obtain signatures from 15% of the total number of votes cast in the last preceding municipal election. It would substantially reduce the signatures required to propose Charter amendments.
City of Bellingham, Proposition 2021-17
City of Bellingham Proposed Charter Amendment No. 2021-02 would reduce the number of signatures required to propose an initiative. This amendment would reduce the number of signatures required to propose an initiative. Currently, petitioners must obtain signatures from at least 20% of the total number of votes cast for mayor in the last preceding municipal election. This amendment would require petitioners to obtain signatures from just 10% of the total number of votes cast for mayor in the last preceding municipal election. The amendment would also eliminate the two-week grace period for obtaining additional signatures.
In addition to these propositions, the Bellingham ballots will include citizen-led initiatives for the first time in a decade. Brought forth by People First Bellingham, the measures seek to expand tenant rights, conserve privacy from new policing technology and reinforce labor rights in Bellingham. Here is how the initiatives are described on the WA Voter Guide:
City of Bellingham, Initiative No. 2021-01
Expanding Tenants Rights to Include Rental Relocation Assistance
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2021-01 expands tenant rights to include rental relocation assistance. This measure would require landlords to provide written notice 90 days before terminating a rental agreement without cause or increasing rent by more than 5% in a rolling 12-month period; require landlords to pay rental relocation assistance equal to three months of the current fair market rent in the Bellingham area when terminating a rental agreement without cause or increasing rent more than 8%, if requested by tenant, with limited exceptions; and authorize private party civil enforcement actions.
City of Bellingham, Initiative No. 2021-02
Concerning Use of Facial Recognition Technology
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2021-02 concerns the use of facial recognition technology and predictive policing technology. This measure would prohibit the City from acquiring or using facial recognition technology, prohibit the City from contracting with a third party to use facial recognition technology on its behalf, prohibit the use of predictive policing technology, prohibit the retention of unlawfully acquired data, prohibit the use of data, information, or evidence derived from the use of facial recognition technology or predictive policing technology in any legal proceeding, and authorize private civil enforcement actions.
City of Bellingham, Initiative No. 2021-03
Prohibits Using City Funds to Discourage Unionization Efforts
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2021-03 concerns recipients using City funds to discourage unionization efforts. This measure would prohibit any person who receives City funds from using those funds to discourage unionization efforts by that person's employees or any other employees, require recipients of City funds to segregate those funds, provide a safe harbor for non-managerial staff to engage in union protected activities, provide for administrative investigations of complaints, establish private enforcement actions, change the City's contracting process, and allow the City to terminate contracts for violations of the prohibition.
City of Bellingham, Initiative No. 2021-04
Employee Rights for Hourly-Wage Employees and Gig Workers
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2021-04 concerns employee rights for hourly-wage employees and gig workers. This measure would require certain employers to pay their employees a hazard pay supplement of $4 per hour during a declared State of Emergency, require employers to provide good faith estimates of weekly hours to new employees upon hire, require employers to provide work schedules to hourly-wage employees two-weeks in advance, require advance notice of any schedule changes, require employers to compensate employees for changing their work schedules without sufficient notice, and prohibit adverse actions by employers.
The deadline for returning ballots is at 8pm on Nov. 2. To return and submit a ballot by mail, it needs to be postmarked by Election Day. Otherwise they can be dropped off at various Dropbox locations before 8pm.
Clifford Heberden (he/him) is the City News Editor for The Front. He’s a third year News/Ed major planning to minor in Philosophy. With his reporting, he’s mainly focused on local and state-wide environmental news and legislation but has also worked to report on social issues in Whatcom County. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
His Twitter handle is @cliffbutonline.