Charter Measure Election Analysis
17,148 Skagit citizens voted YES for more transparent, accountable, and representative county government through the charter process in November 2019.
The charter measure won in two precincts (Guemes and Mount Vernon 307), and came close in a number of other precincts where we had canvassed during the campaign. In addition there was widespread support from voters throughout the County during the signature gathering phase.
4,335 voters cast ballots for Senator Maria Cantwell, but did not vote on Prop 1. We understand this to mean that these Democratic voters did not have sufficient information to feel comfortable voting on the charter measure.
Six charter supporters won their freeholder races. In six other races, pro-charter freeholders
lost because votes were split between multiple pro-charter candidates.
Our canvassing during the campaign, and polling after the election confirm that most voters
knew little or nothing about the charter proposal until they opened their ballot. Then they had to make their voting decision based on the information in the voter’s pamphlet.
The wording about the measure in the pamphlet was confusing, and the term for freeholders
was incorrectly listed as 6 years. (There is no term specified in the law, since the freeholder
position is task specific. Once the charter is drafted, and voters approve or disapprove the draft, the freeholders’ term is ended.) In addition, we heard that many voters did not understand that a ‘Yes’ vote only meant ‘yes’ to drafting a proposed charter; it was not clear to people that a second vote, at a later date, would then be held to approve or reject the proposal. We believe this caused many voters to vote ‘No’.
Home Rule Skagit was outspent by the opposition by more than 2 to 1 with the bulk of
opposition contributions coming from just 6 individuals or businesses (compared to _insert #_ of donors contributing to Home Rule Skagit’s campaign). Several large NO donors were from outside Skagit County, and one was a large regional business that currently has a Special Use Permit denial under appeal at the County.
In summary, we feel that there is increasing and widespread citizen support for improving County government. One of our biggest challenges is to dispel misinformation and to raise
awareness about this complex topic.