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Jay Inslee
KUOW photo/Deb Wang

The race for Washington governor remains too close to call. But Democrat Jay Inslee said Wednesday he’s already forming a transition team to prepare to take office. The former congressman leads Republican attorney general Rob McKenna 51 percent to 49 percent.

Rob McKenna
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

When you talk to Madeline Fakharzadeh, a high school senior in Kent, you wouldn’t necessarily think American politics are all that divisive right now.  At Tuesday's Republican election night party in Bellevue, she held a campaign sign for her local congressman, Republican Dave Reichert. But she has also volunteered for Democrats and for Washington United for Marriage, the group behind Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage. And she didn’t think she was out of the ordinary in a Republican crowd on election night. “With times changing the way they are, it’s not a matter of, ‘I’m a conservative, I don’t believe in same-sex marriage.’ It’s changing,” she said.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

This is Washington’s first presidential election after making the switch to all mail-in voting. Just over half of the ballots have been counted and many races are still undecided.  KUOW’s Sara Lerner speaks with Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Many Races Still In Flux In Washington

Nov 7, 2012
Gubatron / Flickr

Many races in Washington state are yet to be decided. In the highly contested race for governor, Republican Rob McKenna is trailing Democrat Jay Inslee by about 2.5 percentage points. The same-sex marriage referendum and the charter schools initiative are also too close to call.  But the returns on the marijuana initiative are decisive: recreational use will soon be legal in Washington. 

KUOW’s Sara Lerner speaks with our political reporter Austin Jenkins.

School desk
Flickr Photo/ccarlstead (CC BY-NC-ND)

The initiative to allow charter schools in Washington is narrowly passing with 51 percent of the vote. This was the fourth time the state’s voters considered charter schools. Supporters said charters would expand students’ educational options because charters aren’t bound by district or union rules.

Bob Ferguson
Deborah Wang

Two members of the King County Council waged an aggressive battle for the Washington Attorney General’s Office. Initial results show Democrat Bob Ferguson with a nearly six-point lead. His opponent, Republican Reagan Dunn, says he’s still “in the hunt.”

Flickr Photo/prensa4 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Audio Pending...

Correction:  In the original story Steve Sarich was referred to as an attorney.  He is not an attorney but a medical marijuana consultant and an opponent of I-502.

Hold off on that trip to Amsterdam. It appears recreational marijuana will soon be legal for adults in Washington, at least under state law.

The mood was jubilant at the official I-502 party at the Hotel Andra in downtown Seattle. In attendance was Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, a primary backer of the measure. He says this law change is about good government.

Suzan DelBene talking to supporters at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Democrat Suzan DelBene beat Republican John Koster in the congressional race for the newly drawn 1st District. Election returns show DelBene ahead in three of the four counties.  

Some of the results may not be known for weeks, but the most expensive election ever in Washington state wrapped up Tuesday night. 

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

You may have seen maps of the United States divided into red and blue, based on whether Republicans or Democrats got the most votes in each area. What would it look like to map how campaign contributors vote with their dollars?

The first map below does just that for Washington state. It follows the money to show how each ZIP code in the state has voted with its collective pocketbook in this year’s federal elections. Have people in that ZIP code contributed more money to Democratic (blue) or Republican (red) efforts?

New Report: Coal Terminal Means Traffic In Seattle

Nov 6, 2012

Government agencies have begun the environmental review process for the largest proposed coal export terminal in the Northwest. It would be located near Bellingham, Washington.

If it’s built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal would draw trains from across the region, carrying coal from Wyoming and Montana to be exported to Asia, and those trains would move through Seattle. That would lead to more traffic, according to a new report from the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Read the full story on KUOW's Earthfix

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Army prosecutors say Staff Sgt. Robert Bales murdered 16 Afghan civilians in two villages this past March in an act of “sheer brutality.” That was the opening argument at a pretrial hearing Monday to determine if Bales will face a full court martial and possibly the death penalty.

Shilo Murphy/People's Harm Reduction Alliance

Bob Quinn, one of the founders of Seattle's needle exchange, died over the weekend. The King County Medical examiner says it was suicide.

Dey / Flickr

Marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage are hot-button issues on the Washington ballot. Even after the measures are decided, the debate will likely continue and changes won't happen overnight.

Octopus Killing Fuels Scuba Diver Activism

Nov 5, 2012
A giant Pacific octopus similar to the one that was killed recently at Cove 2 in Alki.
Flickr/California Academy of Sciences

A scuba diving instructor recently encountered a diver who was in the process of killing an octopus at Cove 2, a popular West Seattle diving site. Photos of the incident spread online, prompting the local scuba dive community to seek marine protection status for Cove 2. 

Political forecaster Nate Silver discusses why some predictions work and others don't.
Robert Gauldin

Nate Silver is the statistician and New York Times polling whiz known for his accurate forecasts of the 2008 presidential election.  Four years ago Silver called the correct outcome in 49 out of 50 states and picked the winner in every senate race.  But he got his start in baseball, using statistics to project how well players would perform over the season. Marcie Sillman spoke with Silver about this year’s election and the benefits and limits of data-driven analysis.

Federal Election Law Hotlines Tend To Be Snoozers In NW

Nov 5, 2012

This election day, the U.S. Department of Justice will have federal attorneys in every state, ready to take complaints. It's a long-standing program aimed at combating election fraud and voter rights abuses. But the hotlines tend to be pretty quiet in the Northwest.

The election day program has been around for decades. But attorneys in Oregon and eastern Washington say -– at least in recent memory -– they haven't gotten any complaints. Western Washington received a few calls in 2008 about voter registration issues.

pnwcheese.com

A federal court judge has barred local cheese maker Estrella Creamery of Montesano in Grays Harbor County from selling its products outside of Washington.

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.

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