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Background Checks, Preschool And Metro Passing

A ballot drop box in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

These are the election results as of Wednesday, 4:35 p.m.


This marked the first time a state has presented voters with two competing initiatives on gun regulations – one to require universal background checks and the other to prevent them. It’s also marked a new surge in campaign donations to regulate gun sales in Washington state. Advocates for background checks called the donations “a sea change” that could have ripple effects in other states.

As it stands, gun buyers must undergo background checks at gun retailers. Federal law prevents the sale of guns to people who fall into several categories – including those convicted of a felony and ruled mentally incompetent by a judge. 

Initiative 591: "Protect our gun rights" — FAILING

At last count, Initiative 591 appeared not to be passing on Tuesday night. The initiative was succinct – just 191 words – and asked voters to nix any background checks beyond the federal mandate. At last count, it was only receiving 45 percent of the vote.

Initiative 594: Background checks for all gun purchases — PASSING

Initiative 594 appeared to be passing with 60 percent of the vote on Tuesday night. If it does pass, anyone buying a gun in Washington state would have to pass a background check. Currently, people buying guns at gun shows are not subject to background checks; this initiative would close the so-called “gun show loophole.”

The measure also demands that private sellers meet at a licensed dealer rather than in a parking lot and fill out forms for a background check.

One of the supporters of I-594 was King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “There’s an entire vast secondary market where people are selling guns on sites on the internet, where they meet up and sell a gun, no questions asked, for cash; we think that needs to be tightened up,” he said.

He said Colorado passed a law requiring universal background checks in 2013. It resulted in about 250 more buyers being denied firearms in its first year. “That’s 250 people who didn’t get a gun that way. It doesn’t mean they can’t get it some other way, but it makes it harder for felons to get guns and I’m all for anything that does that,” Satterberg said.

Russ Haydon of Gig Harbor, a retired firearms dealer, said he had only two purchases denied in 25 years of business.

When asked to consider Initiative 594, Haydon said he feels indifferent – he just doesn’t believe universal background checks will help prevent gun violence. “I think it’s going to be a kind of 'do-nothing, feel-good-about-yourself' gun law.” 


Proposition 1A: Child care pay increase in Seattle — FAILING

Proposition 1A, heavily supported by two unions, appears to be behind with 32 percent of the vote. The measure would have increased pay and training requirements for all child care workers in Seattle. It demanded that child care workers eventually earn $15 an hour – sooner than the city’s current plan, which proved to be a sticking point.

The initiative also called for affordable child care – no more than 10 percent of a family’s income, although critics noted that the measure doesn’t say how that would be paid for. 

Proposition 1B: Seattle Preschool plan — PASSING

Proposition 1B is the City of Seattle’s proposed measure for expanding early childhood education. It appeared to be passing on Tuesday evening with 68 percent of the vote.

The measure would provide subsidized preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds beginning next year. The plan states that 2,000 children would be covered by 2018, but critics say just several hundred would benefit immediately.

Tuition would be free for a family of four making up to about $72,000 a year. Families with more money would pay on a sliding-scale basis. The subsidies would be funded by a property tax levy of $43 a year for the average Seattle homeowner.


Proposition 1: King County Metro — PASSING

Proposition 1 appeared to be passing at last count with 60 percent of the vote. If it passes, the county would add a sales tax and a $60 car tab to expand King County Metro bus service.

The proposition was drafted in response to stave off political mayhem at the state level that had started to choke the county’s transportation system. 

Dramatic cuts loomed for dozens of bus routes (a few of those cuts have already gone into effect). During this dramatic period, Seattle politicians drafted Proposition 1 to save the remaining bus routes.

Metro figured out a way to dip into reserve funds, but Proposition 1 stayed on the ballot. So now, the proposition is about expanding Metro.

According to Scott Kubly of Seattle’s Department of Transportation, "What we’re buying is a more comfortable ride, a more reliable ride, and one that we can use for more types of trips." 

Kubly’s office came up with 57 routes that would benefit from Proposition 1 – including popular lines like South Seattle’s 7 bus. Metro would also extend the Rapid Ride service from Ballard and West Seattle so both routes would pass through downtown, rather than terminating on downtown's periphery. The University District’s express buses would expand to the evenings and weekends. 

Citizen Petition 1: Monorail — FAILING

Yet again, it appears that a petition to expand the monorail – currently a mile-long route in downtown Seattle – has failed. At last count it was only receiving 19 percent of the vote. Various iterations of the monorail project have failed five other times since 1997. The proposed petition would have imposed a $5 car tab for Seattle drivers. 


Initiative 1351: Class size — SPLIT

Initiative 1351, which aims to reduce class size, appears to be split, with 49.5 percent in favor of passing.


Congressional District 1

Incumbent Democrat Suzan DelBene was ahead with 55 percent of the vote.

Congressional District 4

Republican Dan Newhouse was ahead with 51 percent of the vote on Monday evening. This is the first time two conservative candidates have faced off in the general election.