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Potential vote to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant will not be on Nov. 2 ballot

Seattle Post-Intelligencer logo Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/10/2021 Alec Regimbal, SeattlePI

A special election to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is expected to take place sometime after this year’s general election, according to King County elections officials.

The group seeking to recall Sawant — aptly named “Recall Sawant” — said in a Thursday Facebook post that they had submitted 16,243 signatures to the King County Elections Office, which would far exceed the 10,687 signatures needed to trigger the recall election.

“We are now one step closer to holding Councilmember Sawant accountable,” Henry Bridger II, the Recall Sawant campaign manager, said in the post. “After seeing her ignore the laws that hold our elected officials accountable, District 3 voters are sending a clear message: It’s time to recall Sawant.”

Elections spokesperson Halei Watkins said the group turned in the signatures on Wednesday. She said her office has yet to count them and was unable to confirm the group’s figure.

Sawant herself had hoped the election would end up on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. General election turnout is typically high, and Sawant’s solidarity team — which is fighting the recall — said in July they would gather recall signatures from District 3 voters in an attempt to force the issue onto the Nov. 2 ballot.

But those efforts appear to have failed.

Watkins said Nov. 2 election ballots went to print Thursday and the recall vote is not on them. Watkins said elections officials will start validating signatures on Sept. 16, and expects the process to take anywhere from two to four weeks. If they reach 10,687 valid signatures — that figure represents 25% of votes cast for either Sawant or challenger Egan Orion in the 2019 general election — then a recall election must be held sometime between 45 and 90 days from when the signatures were validated.

Watkins expects the election to be held sometime between the middle of November and the middle of January.

Sawant has repeatedly accused the recall campaign of missing the Nov. 2 election intentionally, hoping that many of Sawant’s supporters won’t turn out to vote in the winter.

“Now more than ever, it’s time for progressives in Seattle and beyond to speak out against the Recall’s voter suppression tactics,” Sawant's solidarity team wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “Winter special elections have up to 50% lower turnout than general elections, with even lower numbers among working-class people, communities of color, renters, and young people. We have to organize and make sure THIS election is different.”

The recall campaign has denied that it wants low turnout.

In April, the Washington Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing three charges in the recall petition against Sawant to move forward. The court ruled that charges of opening City Hall to protesters, leading a protest to Mayor Jenny Durkan's private residence and using public funds to promote a ballot initiative were factually and legally sufficient and could proceed in the recall.

Watkins said officials in her office are working on projections for how much the recall election will cost the county, and expects to have a figure sometime next week.


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