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King County GOP Victory Van
Amy Radil

This year campaigns are able to make faster and more nimble use of ballot returns than ever before and target those voters who have yet to cast their ballots.

KUOW/Deborah Wang

Democratic Party activists in the state of Washington were in high gear this weekend conducting a massive get-out-the-vote campaign. Hundreds of volunteers manned phone banks and fanned out across neighborhoods to encourage people who hadn’t voted to turn in their ballots.

If Initiative 1240 passes, public school funding would finance each charter school created under the law.

Northwest Money Helps Pay For Swing State Ads

Nov 2, 2012

Northwest voters are spared most presidential campaign ads. But Northwest money still plays a part in them. A handful of big spenders from the region are bolstering major super PACs behind a barage of ads now hitting swing states.

Florida voters might thank some wealthy Washington residents for a recent ad blitz targeting President Obama. People working in the financial services sector around Seattle have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Karl Rove's American Crossroads. It's a super PAC that supports Republican candidates.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New polls show Washington’s open race for governor remains close. Already hundreds of thousands of Washington voters have returned their ballots. Many more will do so in the coming days. But county auditors have a warning to voters who wait until the last minute.

In Oregon you have to have your ballot in by 8pm on Election night. But in Washington you just have to have your ballot postmarked. That means for days after the election ballots keep on rolling in and they get counted -– unless the postmark is past the due date.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools has not met any of the 23 student performance goals the district set for itself four years ago in its five-year plan called "Excellence for All."

Matt Barreto discusses Washington Poll results.
Photo / Amy Radil

A newly released poll of likely Washington voters indicates that the race for governor is virtually tied with Democrat Jay Inslee slightly ahead.

No-smoking sign.
Mikl Roventine / Flickr

Tacoma’s public housing is becoming completely smoke-free.  Right now residents can’t smoke in common areas.  But beginning March 1, 2013 residents won’t be allowed to smoke in their apartments.  The ban also includes outdoor areas like patios and balconies. 

Darcyandkat / Flickr

The latest TV ad from same-sex marriage opponents in Washington focuses on school children, warning “schools could teach that boys could marry boys.”

The ad mirrors those that ran in other states when gay marriage came up for a vote, notably when Prop 8 was on California’s 2008 ballot. Campaign strategists on both sides agree the “schools ad" has been a game changer.

A member of SNAP outside O'Dea High in Seattle.
Christine Beaderstadt

This story has been updated since it was first published.

A member of the Christian Brothers religious order who served as principal at Seattle’s O'Dea High School has resigned. Brother Karl Walczak is being accused of sexually abusing a minor in Chicago about 40 years ago.

The school is operated by the Christian Brothers but owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.

PASCO, Wash. – Just as this year’s Halloween fades into memory, many Northwest Latino families are getting ready for the Day of the Dead. The traditional Mexican holiday is on Friday. Some families blend the two holidays.

In Pasco, Washington, bakeries can hardly churn out enough seasonal pan muerto . It’s a type of semi-sweet bread that has the shapes of bones and skulls baked right in.

What if there was a crystal ball that could reveal the outcome of an election? Turns out modern day campaigns use forecast models to project the winner of a race long before a single vote is counted.

In vote-by-mail states like Washington or Oregon, political parties and campaigns have an advantage. They can find out on a daily basis if you’ve returned your ballot.

Two relatively obscure waterways in rural southeast Oregon are generating a heated dispute over geographic names. The small streams are both named "Squaw Creek," which is considered offensive to Native Americans. But the landowners in each case object to the proposed new names.

A 25-member volunteer panel called the Oregon Geographic Names Board is methodically working to erase the term "squaw" from the state map. Often, the new names are suggested by Native Americans.

Board president Sharon Nesbit says that's the case for two remote creeks in rural Harney County.

Private docks line the shore of Hunts Point, Wash.
John Ryan

Each election season, little-known political action committees -- and the campaign ads they fund -- assume a central role in American politics. This year, the ostensibly independent committees known as super PACs have raised more money than ever before. Their vaguely patriotic names often disguise their true purpose: spending lots of cash to get certain candidates into power.

Low-income parents will soon have a way to get treatment for their children with autism. Starting in January, Washington state will cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for kids with Medicaid coverage. The new benefit is part of a legal settlement between the state and a local advocacy group for children with autism. 

Washington state Auditor Brian Sonntag has issued a report citing significant deficiencies in the billing systems at Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). His report is based on annual audits by accounting firms.

HOQUIAM, Wash. – Nearly 300,000 people in Washington are still unemployed and looking for work. But there was reason to celebrate Monday in coastal Grays Harbor County – where the unemployment rate is tied for the highest in the state. A shuttered paper mill there recently roared back to life. With it came 175 jobs.

It was a party atmosphere inside the long, narrow shipping warehouse at Harbor Paper. Several hundred people milled about as dignitaries, including Governor Chris Gregoire, mounted a makeshift stage.

Washington Considers Another Impact Of Wolves: Skinny Cows

Oct 31, 2012

Washington ranchers who can show that wolves are making their cattle lose weight could get reimbursed under a new proposal. The rule before the Fish and Wildlife Commission would expand a compensation program for ranchers living in wolf country.

Washington’s cattle ranchers aren’t the first to complain about skinny livestock. Ranchers in Idaho and Oregon also say the reintroduction of wolves has made sheep and cattle move more and eat less.

That translates into the bottom line, says Dave Ware. He’s the game manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Halloween Spending Up Across Nation

Oct 31, 2012

KENNEWICK, Wash. – If Halloween spending is an indicator of the economy, Americans are appear to be feeling better than this time last year -- or at least more ghoulish.

A new survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation found that seven of 10 Americans will celebrate Halloween this year. And they’re spending more says spokeswoman Kathy Grannis.

“The average person is expected to spend about $79 on Halloween decorations, costumes and candy.”

Flickr/401 (K) 2012 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Businesses have poured millions of dollars into political contributions this election season. But you may be surprised to learn that in Democratic-leaning Washington, the state’s three largest employers tend to favor Republican candidates.

Seattle police patrol cars.
Flickr Photo/Brittney Bollay

A federal judge has appointed Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor to oversee reforms to the Seattle Police Department. Bobb’s appointment follows disagreement between the Seattle city council, the police department,  and the mayor over whether he was the best choice.

Bobb was one of four finalists. As monitor he will assess the City’s compliance with a settlement agreement between the police and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Air pollution from the major shipping ports in Puget Sound has decreased, according to a new report released Tuesday. The 300-page report compared emissions of diesel particulates, greenhouse gases and other air pollutants in five Puget Sound ports from 2005 to 2011. Overall, emissions have gone down.

Library of Congress Van Vechten Collection

On October 30, 1938, Orson Wells' infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast across the nation.  Fake news of a Martian landing fooled a lot of people on the East Coast, especially around New Jersey, where phony live reports described the alien landing site. But the most infamous panic of all didn't happen in the East. And it wasn't just a single person. It was an entire town, and it happened right here in Washington state.

ballot drop box ballot box
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Procrastinators. That’s how a lot people described themselves while waiting in line Monday for voter registration. It was the final deadline for Washington residents to register for the Nov. 6 election. Hopeful voters had to fill out the paperwork in person since the deadline had already passed to register by mail or online.

Boeing Company

After months of stalemate, Boeing and its engineering union say contract talks have taken a positive turn. In fact, both parties sent out identical statements Thursday saying talks are “productive.”

Voters in both Oregon and Washington are considering measures this November that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If they pass, the laws would further widen the legal gap with neighboring Idaho, where police worry about spillover.

Idaho State Police Major Kevin Hudgens just learned about the two measures to the west of his state. He says they concern him.

“Common sense tells me that I’m sure we’d see some of our residents going over to Oregon and Washington to purchase marijuana. So, we would likely see an increase in that.”

The city of Seattle is seeking citizens for its new Community Police Commission. The commission is being established as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to reform the Seattle Police Department. Federal and local officials have expressed hopes that the commission will play a strong role in police oversight. But it faces some limitations that could hamper its abilities, as the members of another police review board have already found.

Gregoire To Candidates: 'Sounds Good, Doesn't Work'

Oct 26, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has a message for the candidates to replace her: “sounds good, doesn’t work.” That’s Gregoire’s take on several of the budget-balancing ideas she’s hearing from fellow Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.

In response to reporter questions, Gregoire got to play the role of seasoned eight-year veteran of the governor’s office. Both candidates say they would look to close outdated tax loopholes.

“I said that eight years ago," the governor says. "I’ve learned a lot.”

AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey

President Obama is formally throwing his support to Referendum 74, which asks Washington voters to decide on same-sex marriage.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The University of Washington got its launch Wednesday as the country's biggest testing ground for smart grid technology.

Smart grid is a catch-all term for something power providers are still trying to figure out — namely, how do you use modern technology, like the Internet, to manage how much power is flowing through the grid at any given time?

Read the full story on KUOW's EarthFix

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