News coverage of candidates, ballot issues, and election results in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

Rebecca White/SPR

The panel tasked with dividing Spokane County into five new commissioner districts may be less than a week away from finalizing a compromise.

The group, made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent chair, has clashed over the months long process on how to divide the city of Spokane, and how to handle the West Plains and the South Hill. Their compromise map, tentatively agreed to this afternoon, has two Republican districts and two Democratic districts, the southwest urban end of Spokane will likely be a swing district.

Wikimedia Commons

Activists and voting rights advocates put local governments on notice this week when they settled a lawsuit with Yakima County to rewrite its election process.

Courtesy of Spokane County Redistricting Commission

The group tasked with carving Spokane County into five new county commissioner districts has released four maps.

The maps have garnered mixed reviews.

Courtesy of Tyler LeMasters

A judge ruled that Spokane City Council Candidate Tyler LeMasters' name will not be allowed to appear on the November ballot.

LeMasters is a realtor and former aide to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. He was running against Betsy Wilkerson, a city councilwoman who was appointed to represent the South Spokane City Council District in 2019.

Spokane County to Recount Votes for Two Primary Races

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

Two Spokane County races will be recounted next week due to a close margin in a Spokane City Council Race and a tie for second place in the town of Rockford.

The Spokane County election results were verified Tuesday. In the final count Jonathan Bingle came in first in the race for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, and candidate Naghmana Sherazi came in second.

Candidate Luc Jasmin however, was only four votes behind Sherazi, which triggered a recount for that race.

Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

At least one race in Spokane County's August primary election is likely headed for a recount. Only two votes separate candidates for the Northeast City Council Districts in their race for that coveted second-place spot.

In the race to represent the open seat in the Northeast district, event business owner Jonathan Bingle came in first with about 46% of votes. Naghmana Sherazi, who works in the diversity and inclusion office at Gonzaga University, and Luc Jasmin, a day care owner, are vying for second with a little more than 26% of the vote each. Sherazi's up by two votes.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County has had three commissioners for most of its history as a government, but will have five elected by district starting next year.

A committee has been chosen to draw the lines for the new districts and has about five months left to complete the task. The group’s chair says they need feedback from the public now.

Official public hearings and information sessions start next month.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County’s filing week closed with nearly 198 candidates filing for 122 public offices.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County will soon publish its first local voters guide in more than a decade.

That guide will include both for, and against sections for several local tax levies, a section the county auditor’s office says it needs volunteers to finish.

Filing Week For Public Office Opens in Spokane County

May 17, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

The filing period to run for office in Spokane County opened today and there are nearly 150 elected positions open in Spokane County.

In the first few hours of filing week 41 candidates filed for 33 open positions said Spokane County elections manager Mike McLaughlin. He said that’s likely a small fraction of people expected to file this week.

“We’ll get a lot of people the next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night. A lot of people will file, we’ll come to work, get them processed and up on the website.”

Screenshot from Idaho Secretary of State video

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has entered the civic education business. The office administers elections in the state and, last week, released the first in a series of videos that explain how those elections work.

Chad Houck says, after the 2020 presidential election, it became clear to him that people, in general, don’t know much about how elections work in the United States.

Wikimedia Commons

Under current law possessing psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, could lead to five years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Under a new proposal that could soon be before city of Spokane voters, the city would be barred from using resources to prosecute or police the substance.

Mason Lord is the chair of Decriminalize Spokane and the sponsor of a city initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. He said if he can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, Spokane voters could join a national effort to change policies around mushrooms and other plant-based substances that carry heavy legal penalties.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Despite delays in census data caused by the pandemic, the effort to redistrict the state, and the Spokane area will soon be underway.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said despite those delays, state law requires redistricting to start this spring. The deadline for most new boundaries is the end of November.

On Friday the U.S. Census Bureau announced that population data it planned to release to states on March 31 will be pushed back to Sept. 30.

Screenshot from Kootenai County Elections Office

Political observers will have a physical presence in elections offices all over the country today [Tuesday], ensuring that ballots are counted properly. But you don’t have to be a political insider to get at least visual access to the count.

Several counties, including some in eastern Washington and northern Idaho, have cameras that allow you to watch the counting process at home.

Idaho Public Television

UPDATED: 2:55 pm

The Idaho Senate today [Monday] approved a bill that adds an in-person voting center option to supplement neighborhood polling places on Election Day in November.

“What we would do is make it possible for any voter to go to any location to vote," said Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, speaking during the first day of the Idaho special legislative session.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane County elections office sent out overseas ballots for the November general election late last week. Service members and others who vote in Spokane’s elections have until November 5 to return them.

There’s one new development this year that could make returning those ballots a challenge.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton is breathing easier now that the August primary election is certified.

That’s because the election was the first to be run using a unified state election system, rather than county-by-county. The election was also the first in which people could register to vote and then cast their ballots on Election Day. That change was part of a package of election reforms mandated by the legislature.

Changes In Place For Washington Elections

Jul 3, 2019

When the calendar turned from June to July, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton’s job became more complicated.

“Elections in the state of Washington changed extensively on July 1," Dalton said. Her elections' office staff members are rushing to learn and implement new procedures before next month's primary.

Those changes were meant to make registration and voting easier.

Washington Primary Turnout Expected To Top 40%

Aug 7, 2018
Spokane County

NOTE: Ballots must be postmarked by today or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 pm tonight to be counted.

Washington state elections officials expect more than 40% of the state’s voters will cast their ballots for today’s primary election.

Elected officials all over the U.S. are asking questions about the security of America’s elections system. More than 20 states, including Washington, have confirmed outside attempts to get access to their electoral information.

In Spokane County, the top elections official says her office is working with the state to make sure the local system is as protected as it can be.


A Washington House committee voted Tuesday to allow the state to move its presidential primary from May to the second Tuesday in March.

The goal is increase the state’s clout with candidates before a frontrunner collects enough delegates to secure his or her party’s nomination.

Spokane County

This year the Washington legislature approved a bill that requires counties to place more ballot drop boxes in rural areas, but it didn’t allocate money to cover their costs.

Now a western Washington county is getting ready to take the state to court to require it to pay the expenses of complying with the new state mandate.

The Everett Herald reports Snohomish County expects to spend $250,000 next year to install and operate 19 new ballot boxes. The new state law requires at least one drop box for every 15,000 registered voters and at least one box in each city, town, and census-designated area with a post office.

The irony is the bill was sponsored by Snohomish County Sen. Kirk Pearson, who has since left the legislature to take a job with the Trump administration.

Inland Journal, July 20, 2017

Jul 20, 2017

▪    Washington’s primary election is August 1. Three Spokane city council seats are open this year. We’ll talk with candidates Kathryn Alexander, Kate Burke and Candace Mumm.
    ▪    The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld Governor Butch Otter’s veto of a repeal of the state grocery tax. We’ll talk about it with University of Idaho Law Professor Katherine Macfarlane.

USA Today

Every piece of legislation considered by a body of elected officials has some kind of back story. Sometimes a bill is sparked by an idea from a constituent. That was the case with one bill (Senate Bill 5472) now waiting for Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s signature. It started with an innocuous question about election drop boxes.

Spokane City Voters to Decide Library Funding Measure

Apr 14, 2017
Spokane Public Library

For years, the Spokane Public Library’s entire budget came from the city’s general fund. But in 2013, library officials convinced city leaders to let them ask for extra money for what they say was a chronically-underfunded system.

“We were at the verge of having to close down some branches and drastically reduce hours to the public. And the board, as well as city council, came together with a different funding mechanism for libraries. And the levy lid lift was the solution," said library director Andrew Chanse.

Inland Journal, April 13, 2017

Apr 14, 2017

Inland Journal for April 13, 2017

  • Steve Jackson reports on Spokane County emergency communications ballots measure
  • Spokane city library ballot measure
  • Interview with Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) about Governor Butch Otter's veto of the repeal of the state grocery sales tax
  • A new public campaign to promote smoking cessation, featuring interviews with two former smokers
  • Heart attacks; an interview with Spokane cardiologist Dr. Brad Batkoff

Kevin Boyd

The battle for Spokane city council president pits the incumbent against a former state legislator.

Fagan and Ramos Take Differences To City Council Race

Oct 1, 2015
City of Spokane

An outspoken conservative and a newcomer to politics are facing off in Spokane’s election. Incumbent Mike Fagan and challenger Randy Ramos are running for City Council district one, which represents the city’s east and northeast neighborhoods.

Ballots Due Tuesday for Primary Election

Aug 3, 2015

Ballots are due Tuesday, August 4th for the Washington state primary election. Spokane County residents can vote by dropping their ballot into an official dropbox, or mailing it by Tuesday.

Billionaire Paul Allen wants wildlife traffickers to feel a bit more pain. Professional initiative sponsor Tim Eyman wants state lawmakers to feel a bit of pain too.