Election analysis: I-976 vote casts South King County against Seattle, Eastside

Preliminary precinct counts show support for the initiative split by region.

Voters in South King County cities uniformly approved Initiative 976 in contrast to most Eastside cities and Seattle, which largely rejected it.

Precinct results from incorporated cities found that every city in the south end voted to approve I-976 in the Nov. 5 election. The measure will create $30 car tabs, eliminate much of Sound Transit’s ability to raise funds for light rail, and reduce the amount of funding the state has for infrastructure ranging from roads to ferries.

This report should be read with the caveat that it’s only looking at incorporated cities, and excludes portions of cities that are in Pierce County as precinct-level results were unavailable for that county at press time. This affects Pacific, Algona and a small portion of Auburn.

The results illustrate a divide between the regions of King County. Seattle voted overwhelmingly against the initiative, with 85,395 ballots cast in opposition, compared to 31,601 in favor. Seattle voters and those in the north end cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, and most of the large Eastside cities, voted overwhelmingly against I-976.

This is compared to a more mixed result from Eastside cities, which on the whole voted 51.66% to approve. Notably, Bothell and Sammamish voted to approve the initiative, joining south end cities and smaller towns on the Eastside. A Google map with city results can be found here.

In South King County, the cities of Kent, Renton, Federal Way and Auburn saw the largest number of voters turn out. In Kent, some 7,564 voters approved the initiative, while 4,255 voted against it. In Federal Way, it was the same story, with 6,322 ballots cast in approval, while 3,437 were opposed.

Some 6,431 people voted in favor of I-976 in Renton, while 4,123 voted against it. In the King County portion of Auburn, the initiative passed easily with 4,819 voting in support and 2,232 voting against it.

In King County, 40.73% of voters approved the initiative, while 59.27% voted against it, according to the Washington state Secretary of State’s website. Statewide, 52.99% of voters approved the initiative, while 47.01% rejected it.

King, Whatcom, Jefferson and San Juan counties all saw majorities voting early against I-976. As of Nov. 11, Thurston and Island counties had been added to that list, with close races in Kitsap, Clallam and Whitman counties. Pierce and Snohomish counties both approved the initiative handily, as did most of the rest of the counties in the state.

Initiative 976 is the third Tim Eyman ballot car tab initiative that has been approved by voters in the past two decades. The first was I-695 in 1999. King, San Juan and Whitman counties voted against it, but it was approved by more than 56% statewide. It was later declared unconstitutional.

In 2002, voters in the state again approved a $30 car tab Eyman initiative in the form of I-776. It saw King, Kitsap, Jefferson, San Juan, Thurston and Whitman counties voting against it. The initiative was approved by 51.5% of voters across the state, but was later also invalidated.

These election results are preliminary and will be finalized by the end of November.

Initiative 976 promised $30 car tab fees for the state’s drivers. File photo

Initiative 976 promised $30 car tab fees for the state’s drivers. File photo