We have voter guides up the wazoo in Spokane and Washington. We’re highlighting five (and giving a warning about a sixth), with a bit of background on the organizations behind them.
Hey! Check your mailbox*! Your midterm election ballots should be at your house, thanks to Washington’s extremely convenient voting system.
Next step: Vote!
But for whom? And for what? Good question! Since we want to give you the tools to demand better, we’ve compiled local voter guides running the gamut of political affiliations: from progressive to nonpartisan to conservative. Use these guides to inform your vote, whether it’s to see what an organization you trust has to say, or see what candidates you might want to avoid because an organization you don’t trust recommended them, or just to cross-check how a candidate communicates to different constituencies.
* PRO TIP: A “mailbox” is that receptacle near your house or apartment where the nice person who wears shorts most of the year puts physical correspondence and all the unsolicited advertisements that don’t come via text or other electronic communications.
Secretary of State Voters’ Guide
We begin with the raw, unsalted peanut of guides: the official Washington Voters’ Pamphlet, brought to you by the Secretary of State. Simple, classic, it includes candidate statements and also has arguments for and against each ballot measure as well as explanatory statements. This is the online version of the booklet you get in the mail. Read it here.
League of Women Voters of Spokane County
The League, a non-partisan advocacy group, touts their Vote411 voter guide as unbiased and, by entering your address, it will automatically winnow down all the candidate and ballot information for your area. The League sent a questionnaire to each candidate — though not everyone responded with answers (which is sort of an answer in itself) — and you can see the responses for each race side-by-side. They also have a comprehensive page of voter information, like how to vote by mail, polling places and any ID requirements. (Our one critique is that they do not explain what a mailbox is for the unfamiliar, but that’s what we’re here for.)
Spokane voters: you can also watch their candidate forums here.
We Believe, We Vote
You’ve probably seen signs around Spokane advertising this guide. This Washington State non-profit describes itself as providing “Biblical and Constitutional resources to churches, pastors, and the general public. Our organization is completely funded by community partnerships and donations by concerned Biblical Citizens.”
They sent out a survey to candidates with the first question asking the candidate how much they agree or disagree that the Bible is “the supernatural, inspired Word of God.” Another question targets LGBTQ freedoms, stating “Only marriage between one man & one woman should be protected by civil government because it is the optimal environment for raising children” and asks the candidate if they agree that “Elected officials should not use taxpayer funds for programs that undermine the traditional family.”
The responses to this survey fall along partisan lines, with Republicans being the ones who responded and Democrats mostly opting out entirely. This guide is particularly helpful in races where both candidates are Republican. For example, it’s the only questionaire-style guide where both Spokane County Sheriff candidates responded. See it here.
You may also run across the conservative iVoterGuide, which we will not be linking to. We’re only mentioning it to point out that it is put out by the American Family Association Action, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group because of its anti-LGBTQ ideology.
Smart Justice Spokane and SCAR (Spokane Community Against Racism)
In this guide, a coalition of 30 local organizations sent a questionnaire to candidates in races where Spokane County voters will be electing leaders who determine how our community approaches issues surrounding racial justice, policing, housing and incarceration. Left-leaning candidates were far more likely to respond to their questionnaires (this seems like a pattern).
Questions include: “You have an opportunity to re-envision law enforcement and the criminal legal system in Spokane County — what should it look like?” and “How can the community hold you accountable day-to-day in-between elections?” These are thoughtful questions, but obviously biased against candidates who think things are perfect as they are.
See the guide here.
Progressive Voters Guide by Fuse WA
The only guide with endorsements, Fuse WA, a progressive organization dedicated to giving ordinary people a voice in politics, recommends candidates and measures by researching and looking at the endorsements of Washington progressive organizations. And they take the time to drill down on groups operating in specific areas, so, not just unions, but Spokane-area unions. Other groups include reproductive-rights, environmental and racial equity organizations.
This guide explains the reasoning behind their endorsements, even in races where no progressives are running.
They have guides for cities and counties across the state, find Spokane’s here.