General Election precinct analysis: Bainbridge goes big on gun control

Nine out of every 10 Bainbridge voters supported the initiative to tighten state firearm regulations on last week’s ballot, according to a Review analysis of unofficial precinct returns.

Eight out of every 10 voters on the island also wanted Hillary Clinton to be the next president.

Less popular, but still passing, was the Kitsap Transit proposal for a sales tax increase to pay for passenger-only ferries from the Kitsap Peninsula to Seattle.

While the fast ferry proposal sailed to passage with a slim majority vote county-wide, the measure brought in a 59.4 percent “yes” vote on Bainbridge, according to early unofficial precinct returns.

I-1491

The big winner on Bainbridge was Initiative 1491.

Renee Hopkins of Washington Gun Responsibility, supporters of I-1491, said the passage of the measure underscored the mandate for gun laws that will keep families and communities safe.

I-1491 passed easily in Kitsap County and Washington. The measure gives police, family or household members the chance to get an “extreme risk” protection order from a court to prevent people having mental health crises or violence problems from getting firearms.

In the latest vote tally this week, I-1491 had passed with 69.5 percent of all ballots cast. In Kitsap County, the approval rate was 68.3 percent.

Hopkins said the initiative will make a difference; she noted that suicides were the most common form of gun death in Washington.

“It’s a huge public health crisis in our community,” she said.

Nearly 80 percent of Washington’s firearm deaths stem from suicide.

Two other states with similar laws on the book have seen a reduction in suicide rates, Hopkins added.

“1491 will be saving lives in our state,” she said.

Hopkins compared the map of Washington state when I-594 was passed, to the one seen Tuesday with I-1491 on the ballot. I-594, which requires universal background checks in Washington for gun purchasers, was approved in 2014 with 59 percent of the vote.

“It is clear that people, even more people in our state, are demanding common sense gun laws. And that’s really exciting to see,” she said.

The organization is already looking ahead, and there’s a meeting Friday to set the priority policy agenda for 2017.

“We will continue looking at policies that keep guns out of the most dangerous hands,” she said.

Only seven out of Washington state’s 39 counties did not give it a majority vote.

King County went big for the measure: 81 percent voted in favor.

But on Bainbridge, I-1491 received possibly the largest approval margin of any community in the state.

In unofficial precinct returns released late last week, the gun control measure was passing on Bainbridge with an 87.2 percent “yes” vote.

I-1491 was being approved by nine-out-of-10 voters in three precincts, Azalea (91.4 percent), Winslow (90.4) and Crystal Springs (90).

Bainbridge Councilman Mike Scott said I-1491 was a common sense measure that will not interfere with people’s right to own firearms for hunting or protecting their homes.

Scott has led the council’s consideration of resolutions that call for state and federal lawmakers to tighten background checks for gun buyers and restrict the purchase of military-style weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

“I’m really encouraged by it,” Scott said, he said of Bainbridge’s support for I-1491. “And I hope it’s a harbinger of others to follow,” he said.

While the measure’s support on Bainbridge was amazing, Scott said, it wasn’t unexpected.

“I’m not surprised, but I’m delighted. I think we have a very common sense island, that’s well-informed and reasonable. I hope our voice is heard and spread,” Scott said.

Presidential race

Hillary Clinton pulled in 80 percent of the vote on Bainbridge, according to unofficial precinct results released late last week.

Donald Trump finished with 14.5 percent of the vote on Bainbridge.

The Manhattan real estate mogul did best in the precinct of Wing Point, with 18.7 percent of all ballots cast, followed by the precincts of Liberty (18.6 percent), Tolo (17.1) and Meadowmeer (16.9).

Trump’s poorest performance amid Republicans came in the precincts of Lovgren (10.8 percent) and Eagle Harbor (10.9).

Third party candidates Gary Johnson picked up 3.5 percent of the vote on Bainbridge, and Jill Stein, 1 percent.

Clinton earned more than 80 percent of the vote in nine of Bainbridge’s 22 precincts.

The former Secretary of State did best in the precinct of Crystal Springs, where Clinton collected 83 percent of all votes cast.

She also surpassed her overall Bainbridge average of 80 percent in the precincts of Blue Heron (82.3 percent), Blakely (82.2), Finch (82), Ferncliff (82), Skiff Point (81.9), Azalea (81.5), Winslow (81.3) and Fort Ward (81).

Clinton’s softest support came in Lovgren (74 percent).

Katherine Woods, chairwoman of Kitsap County Democrats, said the presidential race cast a pall on a night where Democrats enjoyed success in so many other races.

“It was kind of a night of mixed emotions on Tuesday,” Woods said.

The vote in Washington, at the state and county level, went well. Elsewhere, not so much.

“A lot of people were kind of down, given the presidential results. But on the local level we had a pretty good night.”

Shock is the best way to describe the outcome of the presidential race, Woods said.

Most polls showed Clinton ahead, but a historical upset sent Trump to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump won the presidency by locking up states crucial to an Electoral College win, while Clinton won the popular vote by a record margin.

“It’s been difficult to wrap our heads around that,” Woods said.

Turnout was lower this election year, though Woods said it appeared to be down only 3 percent from four years ago.

The fewer number of voters wasn’t unique to Kitsap.

“It was certainly a statewide and national trend, Woods said.

“We tried to combat that with a robust get-out-the-vote effort,” she noted, adding that the organization made more phone calls than it did in the last presidential election, and cell phone numbers collected during the crammed caucuses earlier this year gave county Democrats the chance to connect with more voters.

This go-round, Kitsap Democrats made roughly 40,000 calls in the days leading up to the election.

“We were just really focused on bringing together everyone in the Democratic Party, folks who hadn’t been involved before,” she said.

One lesson learned from last week is the work that must be done to keep the momentum moving forward. Organizing can’t wait, and restart, every four years.

“We tend to focus on presidential elections,” Woods said. “We need to be involved year round, every year.”

Lower turnout

Bainbridge’s turnout was at 69 percent in early returns, though that number has likely improved with additional vote tallies this week.

In the 2012 Election, Bainbridge turnout hovered near 90 percent.

The latest estimate for turnout in Kitsap was 76 percent.

Getting to the final figure on turnout will take some time, said Kitsap County Elections Manager Kyle Joyce.

Even so, it’s already evident that fewer voters have been casting ballots in recent years.

“Turnout has been trending down the last several election cycles,” Joyce said.

Current estimates of turnout are based on the number of ballots received, but some ballots won’t be counted if questions on voters’ validating signatures are not resolved before the election is validated later this month.

Ballots that also lack signatures are in the current estimate of turnout, but those won’t be counted unless voters who cast those ballots respond to queries from the county’s Election Division.

Some voters won’t likely respond where races are not close, but Joyce noted that campaigns for the candidates for the Superintendent of Public Instruction have been asking for information on voters who cast unverified ballots.

In that race, Chris Reykdal leads with 50.64 percent of the statewide vote over opponent Erin Jones, according to Wednesday’s tally; a gap of 31,605 votes. (Jones was leading with 51.52 percent in Kitsap County this week, or 2,989 votes.)

A closer look at turnout will be done after the dust from this election settles, Joyce said.

Bremerton typically has a lower turnout than other areas of the county, he said. Bainbridge, by contrast, historically leads in turnout.

Election officials plan to take a closer look at turnout, and perhaps examine it at the precinct level, in December.

Whether one ultimately casts a vote, however, is a personal decision, Joyce said.

“Ultimately the decision is theirs,” he said. “We just want to make it easy to vote, but ultimately it’s up to them,” he said.

Though the county is limited in ways it can work to increase turnout, Joyce explained, some efforts could be made to expand the numbers of voters, such as adding more drop boxes for ballots.

This election, roughly 56 percent of voters in Kitsap County used a drop box to send in their ballot.

That’s close to 73,000 voters, “which is phenomenal,” Joyce said.

The U.S. Postal Service is a reliable option, he added, but the Elections Division benefits by voters using drop boxes because it reduces the delay of a mailed-in vote and more ballots can be readied for counting at the end of Election Day.

Fast ferries

Proposition 1, the fast ferries proposal, earned crucial support from Bainbridge Island last week, which is one place in the county the new boats won’t dock.

The measure enjoyed its greatest success from neighborhoods along Highway 305.

Bainbridge Mayor Val Tollefson said he wasn’t a booster of the proposal, but as a member of the Kitsap Transit board of directors, agreed it should go to a public vote.

“I was pretty neutral,” he said.

Tollefson said he wasn’t surprised by the island vote — and noted it got the endorsement of Sustainable Bainbridge — and said some touted the potential benefit of reduced traffic on Highway 305 across Bainbridge as some commuters would go to the Kingston terminal instead to board a foot ferry to Seattle.

“I was skeptical and I remain skeptical that it’s going to be much of a benefit to Bainbridge Islanders,” he said. “I kind of tend to think that the traffic on 305 will get as bad as people will tolerate, then people will do something else.”

Like most highways, he said, if it starts to empty out it’ll fill back up before long.

“I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it makes a difference,” he said.

The longer view, Tollefson added, might be directing some growth potential to Bremerton, Kingston and Southworth, the new homes for foot ferry traffic.

“Maybe that takes some pressure off Bainbridge in the long run and that’s a nice result,” he said.

The measure, which will increase the sales tax to help fund the passenger-only ferries, collected 59.4 percent of the Bainbridge vote, according to unofficial precinct results.

The proposal passed by higher than 60 percent in eight Bainbridge precincts.

Meadowmeer voters gave it a 68 percent “yes” nod.

Support was second strongest on the far north end of the island, in Seabold, where it gained 66 percent of the vote.

Elsewhere, the 60-and-over tally was in the precincts of Port Madison (63 percent), Blue Heron (62), Azalea (61), Winslow (61), Skiff Point (60) and Island Center (60).

In Kitsap County overall, it squeaked by 51.4 percent in favor.

“I thought it would be very close county wide, and it turned out to be very close county wide,” Tollefson said.

“As we know all too well in these times, it’s kind of a fool’s errand to forecast the way elections go,” he added.