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HomeThe Voter Newsletter

Our Newsletter

The Voter features information on our forums and other public events; our neighborhood discussion groups; volunteer opportunities; our voter registration and education efforts; and our work on issues like accountability for local government, climate change, education, health care, and police reform.

Do you have an idea? Send us your news! Contact the Voter Editor at Submissions are due by the 15th of the month for the next edition.

View a PDF of the current issue of The Voter.

Our Mission

The League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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Past Issues

View past issues of The Voter.

Raising Awareness of Extreme Risk Protection Order Law

Richard Badalamente, LWV-BF, and Pat Griffith, LWVSKC

The League of Women Voters of Benton and Franklin Counties (LWV-BF) has undertaken an action to support the LWVWA position on gun safety by working to raise awareness of the Washington Extreme Risk Protection Order law.
The Tri-City Herald in Benton County published an article Feb. 21, 2023, revisiting what the paper called, “one of the worst crime sprees in Tri-City history.” It was part of a series on a 43-year-old man’s tragic act of gun violence and arson across the Tri-Cities in 2021. The man suffered from mental illness from an early age. He was prescribed medication for depression and psychosis and was seeing a psychiatrist, but he had stopped both treatments. In the months before his outburst, the man’s family was “keeping their distance.” The Herald reported that the man owned, “owned at least 50 and maybe as many as 100 guns.”
Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law, was passed in the 2016 election. Nearly 70% of Washington voters approved the law, including a majority in Benton & Franklin counties—where the man responsible for the crime spree lived—despite their traditionally conservative attitudes towards gun safety.
No one petitioned the court for an ERPO to remove guns from a man who clearly should not have had them. Why? Because as studies have shown, the public generally is unaware of the ERPO law.
An ERPO is a court order that temporarily suspends a person’s access to firearms if there is evidence that the person is threatening to harm themself or others. Despite challenges, the courts have ruled ERPOs constitutional. Yet ERPOs don’t seem to be used to the extent warranted.

A study in King County showed that while there were almost 3,000 domestic violence protection orders filed annually from 2016 to 2021, ERPOs averaged just 48. This was exceeded by all other categories of protective order. In Kennewick, that number dropped to just three ERPOs over five years, despite thousands of felonies.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), almost 58 million U.S. adults live with some form of mental illness. Of these, more than 14 million suffer from a severe mental illness. It’s important to understand that the large majority of people with mental disorders do not engage in violence against others; numerous studies have borne this out.
Suicide is another matter. Psychiatric disorders such as depression are strongly implicated in suicide, which accounts for more than half of gun fatalities (75% in Washington). Suicide is among the top 10 leading causes of death in America. Sadly, it is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24 and among veterans under 45. When people commit suicide, the majority do so with a firearm.
In 2017, LWVWA endorsed the ERPO initiative. Today, LWV-BF is working with local government agencies and non-profits in Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, and Pasco to raise awareness of Washington’s ERPO law while educating its own members about ERPO and its potential to aid people in crisis. Meanwhile, LWVSKC members have started conversations with stakeholders and law enforcement about statewide implementation. Since the ERPO law passed in Washington, over twenty states have followed suit. The federal government is encouraging states to pass ERPO-enabling legislation and is offering grants to states for implementation.

To learn more, contact Diane Molleson, LWV-BF,, or Heather Kelly, LWVSKC,

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September Healthcare Bulletin

Maureen Brinck-Lund, LWVSKC

This is the Voter’s first Healthcare Bulletin. The League is a great resource for learning and advocating on healthcare issues. Here’s an overview of what is in place already.



  • The LWVWA’s healthcare policy position is in the LWVWA “Program in Action” document. For national updates, the LWVUS “Impact on Issues” document can also be accessed from the above link.
  • Jody Disney (Thurston County) and Mary-Lynne Courtney (Bellingham) are the co-chairs for Health Care & Behavioral Health on the LWVWA Lobby Team.
  • LWVWA has a Health Care Affinity Group which meets quarterly and is headed by Kim Abbey.
  • Tressa Kentner (Snohomish County) serves as an advocate on the LWVWA Lobby Team and she chairs a robust Healthcare Committee, which meets monthly on Zoom.


  • LWVUS healthcare policy positions are found in the “Impact on Issues” document. Access from same link as above.
  • Healthcare Reform for the U.S. (HCR4US) is the national affinity group where LWV healthcare advocates from across the country gather once a month on Zoom to learn from each other and to organize and share league news.
  • The HCR4US Toolkit is packed full of links to articles, videos, books and information you can access individually and at meetings, presentations, forums, webinars and town halls.
  • HCR4US posts a monthly, information-packed newsletter. On the Toolkit website, scroll down to block labeled, “Read the Latest Newsletter.”

My name is Maureen Brinck-Lund and I am a member of LWVSKC. Next month I’ll post some particulars on a specific health care issue and ways to find more information. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to contact me.




Maureen (Mo) Brinck-Lund: ( or 206-398-9089 (text OK)

Mary Lynne Courtney (Bellingham):

Jody Disney (Thurston):

Kim Abbey (Olympia):

Tressa Kentner (Snohomish):

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August King County Primary Debrief

Allison Feher, Administrative Manager

The 2023 primary election in King County had one of the lowest voter turnouts seen in many years at less than 31%. While off-year elections do tend to have lower turnout, these important local elections have been consistently trending down over the past decade. Was it the lack of significant media coverage, hot-button issues, or exciting candidates' races? Hard to say. There was one race hot enough to trigger a recount—the Enumclaw School District had to wait until Aug. 22, 2023, to see who the top two fall candidates would be.

Ballot Measures: The renewal of the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy passed at over 71%. That's the highest approval it’s received since it was first passed in 2005. All of the six fire district measures also passed.

More detailed results can be found on the King County Elections website. 

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Voter Services Committee September Announcements

Paula Barnes, Voter Servicecs Chair

Important Dates for General Election

For the 2023 election calendar, go to King County Elections.

Sept. 22

Overseas, service and absentee General Election ballots sent out

Oct. 17

Local voter pamphlets mailed

Oct. 18

In-state General Election ballots mailed

Oct. 19

Ballot drop boxes open

Oct. 30

Deadline to register or update registration by mail or online

Nov. 7

Election day; last day to register to vote in person; ballots must be postmarked today or returned to a ballot box by 8 p.m.; election results posted at 8:15 p.m.

General Election Candidate Forums


Are you aware of a race that would benefit from a LWV candidate forum? Or an organization that is interested in presenting a forum with us? Voter Services Committee members are ready, willing and able to work with you to present it! Although our committee doesn’t have the people power to present forums on our own, we’re eager to partner with League members, units, committees and appropriate partner organizations. We can provide moderators, timers and volunteers; help establish ground rules; draft scripts for moderators; and help with publicity. The optimal window for forums will be Oct. 1-18. To get the ball rolling, email or contact Paula Barnes at 360-808-5876.

Grab and Go BagsVoter Registration Grab-and-Go Bags Are Ready to Be Deployed


The Voter Services Committee has assembled a dozen bags filled with everything you need to go out to local events to register new voters and help existing voters make sure their registration information is up to date. Bags contain name tags, lanyards, basic instructions for volunteers, voter registration forms, information on the Future Voter, address confidentiality and felony conviction voting rights programs, pens and clipboards.


We’d like to see two bags staged at members’ homes. For example: someone in north King County, someone in south King County, somebody on the east side, a couple of members in Seattle, etc. Committee members will replenish the bag contents as needed. Our goal is to get them placed ASAP so they’re available to everyone as fall events and activities get underway. Voter registration at community events is a great way to Get Out the Vote and raise awareness about the League. If you can host a couple of bags, or if you have an event in mind, please email

Ballot AlertHere's How You Can Increase Voter Turnout!


Do you know about King County Elections’ ballot alert service? Registered voters who sign up for ballot alerts via email or text at  will receive messages when their ballot is mailed, when it’s received, if signatures challenges or other problems arise, and when it’s been counted. Spread the word to family, friends and neighbors, especially to people who don’t pay close attention to USPS mail. This is a great way to raise awareness about voting and help people make sure they return their ballots!

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Help the LWVWA Redistricting Task Force Build Local Teams

Joanna Cullen, Treasurer

The LWVWA Redistricting Task Force developed an overall strategy, a preliminary budget, and a fundraising plan. We decided a key first task is to develop a research survey that will give us a baseline on statewide support for this reform. We interviewed representatives from other states like CA, MI and CO to understand the path and the successes of their citizen commissions. On May 7, delegates from local League of Women Voters across Washington convened at their biennial statewide convention. A resolution in support of the Redistricting Reform Campaign was passed with overwhelming support. Read the resolution here.


We are now actively seeking to form working local teams, which could be represented by LWVSKC units where they exist. Please email Alison McCaffree,, or Joanna Cullen,, if you would like to be moreactively involved in the work at the local or state level. If you can attend our monthly meeting, you will receive regular updates on the work that needs to be done. 


Resources: Recordings and meeting notes from the Task Force can be found at our Task Force 

Google Drive folder

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Southwest King County Candidate Forums Will Provide Spanish Interpreting

Paula Barnes, Voter Services Chair, and Aviva Palencia, Voter Editor

Since its inception in June, Laura Freedman, Meg Van Wyk, Vicci Rudin, Bobbie Egan, Carrie Bagatell, and Kathy Jorgensen have been meeting as the Southwest King County Unit. In an effort to introduce the League to the SW King County community, they are planning two candidate forums in partnership with the King County Library System prior to the Nov. 7 general election. Additional forums are in the works, so stay tuned for updates.

Burien City Council candidates will be featured at a forum at 6 p.m. on Oct. 3, and Highline School Board candidates will be presented on Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Burien Public Library, a branch of the King County Library System (KCLS).

Simultaneous Spanish interpreting will be offered at both forums by KCLS’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Department. These two events qualified for interpreting services based on the significant percentage of Spanish speakers in Burien and the percentage of students in the Highline School District who identify as coming from a Spanish-speaking household. Spanish interpreting will be offered via headsets. An interpreter will simultaneously translate the candidates’ statements into Spanish and any questions asked in Spanish into English for the candidates. The library system’s Spanish language services coordinator will market the events in spaces that connect with Spanish-speaking communities. KCLS plans to provide translations for the video recordings of both forums, as well.

We’re grateful to KCLS for their enthusiastic collaboration to inform and educate all voters, including those who speak Spanish.

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Unit Leaders’ Retreat: Growing Our League From the Inside Out

Sarah Beth Miller, Unit Liaison

Retreat Pizza

Thursday, Aug. 31, the energy emanating from the Jackson Place Cohousing dining room was palpable. 30+ LWVSKC Unit members, Board members and others were meeting in person for the first time since COVID. A dozen pizzas from Humble Pie on Rainier Ave South were ordered to treat the Retreat attendees for lunch. Brian Solazzi, the owner, personally delivered the order.  As he dropped them off, he said, “It would be my honor to donate these pizzas to the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County. I have benefitted from LWV pamphlets and voting information ever since the first time I voted.”

The meeting was facilitated by Linda Benson of the LWV of Clallam County, who guided the group to discuss, rethink and restructure their participation in the League. Pretty exciting stuff!

This Unit Leaders’ Retreat had a subtitle: “Growing Our League from the Inside Out.” The seed for the event was planted at a year-end meeting of the LWVSKC Unit Leaders in May of 2023.

At that May meeting, Unit Leaders voiced concern about the health of their Units, which have been shrinking in size for more than a decade. Three prominent Units have closed up shop in as many years. Unit members are aging, and there aren’t enough new members joining up to take their places. Since COVID, many Units have returned to in-person meetings; even so, Unit Leaders report that sometimes only a handful of members attend monthly meetings.

Still, the determination of the Leaders at that May meeting was strong. All agreed that their Units would continue the coming 2023-24 year. There was a clear consensus, however, that Units needed to “get creative” to keep current members interested and attract new ones.

During the summer, former Unit Liaison Roslyn Duffy reached out to the current UL with an offer. She thought that the Units could benefit from working with her colleague, Linda Benson, who is well known among WA Leagues for helping them “get in shape,” function more effectively and grow their membership. Linda’s expertise was in facilitating League & Unit members to make changes “from the inside out” through restructuring their organization to sharpen their focus, attract new members and further the League’s mission to empower voters and defend democracy.


With input by LWVSKC members Sarah Beth, Keela Williams and Paula Barnes, Linda posed some questions for the group assembled on Aug. 31. She had them break into small groups to consider: What is the reason for having Units? What should the relationship be between Units and the Board? How could Units be organized?

In response to the first question, participants accentuated the positive: The reason we have Units is that they are smaller groups that create social connections among people who live in close geographical proximity. There are advantages to learning about issues in a small group setting. In Units issues can be discussed in depth, sparking new ideas. Small groups foster relationships that make projects easier to take on. Units that meet in person can be critical for building cohesion, sharing ideas, setting focus and homing in on priorities.

Units have some level of self-determination. Members can decide for themselves how often they meet, set their own agendas and decide whether they are study-oriented or action-oriented. All in all, the reason for having Units is that they create community and support individuals to engage in action and create a sense of belonging to the League.

The one disadvantage for geographically-centered Units cited was that in meeting folks near to where we live, we may be sacrificing diversity.

What should the relationship be between Units and the Board?

In planning the Retreat, the team knew they needed to include Board members. Facilitator Linda Benson pointed out that the League was founded on the concept that the grassroots (Units) would inform the direction of local Leagues. The Board’s job is to then coordinate and support actions on behalf of its members.

At the Retreat, Unit members asked the Board to give them advance notice about topics and issues before the Board meetings. Then Units can participate in the discussion and bring their feedback back to the Board level.

Ideally, Board members would attend more Unit meetings to raise Unit awareness of Board-level issues and, in turn, hear about things that the Units are concerned about.

Units offered to help the Board members, too! They are hopeful that the new Board can manage its demanding workload, especially since so many critical Board positions have not been filled. It was suggested that Units could pitch in with some of the Board duties, such as helping with membership.

How could units be organized?

Units have traditionally been organized around neighborhoods, and this was natural when fewer women were working outside the home. But with so many women in the workforce and young children attending daycare, this model of Unit formation is no longer sustainable.

A major goal of the August Retreat was to promote different ways of organizing and structuring Units so they are more aligned with the lives and interests of their members. Some of the organizing structures proposed included:

  • Organizing geographically around schools, possibly through PTAs or PTOs.
    • New League members could be drawn from their connections with local schools or community colleges. Units could then engage in joint projects with the schools. An added benefit would be that civic education efforts promoted by the Youth Committee would have more volunteers and more reach in schools.
  • Organizing around King County Council (or other) legislative districts.
    • This structure would be geographic but have a wider reach into the community than neighborhoods. When Units have more members, the Unit can do more (hold forums, register voters, etc.).
    • This structure aligns Units with local legislative issues. Units might build relationships with the King County Council, or with the political leadership in other types of legislative districts. This way of organizing would make it easier to hold topical and candidate forums. There would be even more diverse participation if a Zoom option was offered. Meetings could be held at public libraries and community colleges.
    • A possible disadvantage: Some members are worried that we could become overly political and partisan.
  • Organizing around Units embedded in workplaces
    • This could include child care centers and Amazon or Microsoft campuses.

There was an outpouring of ideas about new ways to structure Units. But some participants pointed out that the structure of units isn’t as important as leadership at all levels of the League! More people need to step up and take part in the maintenance required for the League to function.

Another question was raised: How do we bring joy to leadership?

One way would be strengthening our relationships with one another throughout the League. Another way would be to attract new members to our organization.

How do we attract and keep new members?

How do we effectively engage people, especially new members? The LWVSKC needs to renew its commitment to orienting new members to the League. A curriculum was developed fairly recently; it needs to be updated and more of us need to get involved in delivering the orientation curriculum.

Orientation dates should be communicated through League newsletters and personal connections such as phone calls, emailing, etc.

Experienced members should commit to calling one or two new people to welcome them to the LWV, find out why they joined and what their interests are and connect them to others who share those interests. This is such an important step. Those of us making the calls also need to periodically follow up with new members to ask if they felt supported and engaged with the League.

In addition to individual conversations with new members, we also need to provide a mentoring program or a “buddy” program to support them on a continuous basis.

Holding regular “coffee (or beer) with the League” sessions at local gathering spots could also connect members with one another to exchange ideas and social connections.

We need to provide entry points for new members and members who are ready to reengage. One way to do this is to provide more tech support for message boards and the like. This will require more money in the budget for tech needs, training and support for members.

We need to provide entry points for new members and members who are ready to reengage. One way to do this is to provide more tech support for message boards and the like. This will require more money in the budget for tech needs, training and support for members. Hybrid meetings are essential going forward. This will enable many more people to attend LWVSKC gatherings and meetings. It was suggested that we hold a fundraiser to buy more OWLs for League groups to use (people like to donate for a specific cause).

Beyond the Aug. 31 Retreat

As can be seen from this report, the LWVSKC has no shortage of talented and committed members! The next step for our League is to incorporate the suggestions and thoughts generated into plans and processes that make the best use our invaluable members. Though there are limits on our resources and our members’ time, there is no doubt that all are aware that we are a vital organization doing essential work.

This Retreat was an important and affirming event, and we need to keep it going! We can do this by continuing to ask questions about how and why we work together, by changing old structures that no longer function and by being supportive and friendly to one another. This is how we do the work of democracy.

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September DEI (from LWVUS): Applying a DEI Lens to Our Work

Barb Tengtio, 2nd Vice President

What does it mean to apply a DEI Lens to our work? View the recording (below) at a Unit meeting if possible or on your own, or perhaps ask your Unit members to view it ahead of your next meeting and then have a discussion on it.

In this recording, LWVUS reviews the League’s “Applying a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Lens to Our Work” section of Impact on Issues, including walking through a demonstration of how to apply the tool to a League position. This webinar is for League members and issue advocacy chairs, tenured and new, who would like guidance on applying this vital tool to our work. Check it out!

Recording here

Slides here


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Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court’s Drive to the Right and Its Historic Consequences
By Joan Biskupic

Review by Vicky Downs

Nine Black Robes

“Nine Black Robes” shows how the Supreme Court “has been influenced by Donald Trump’s presidency and its aftermath.” Trump was in a position to appoint three “far right” judges to the Court, and the Court soon “overturned nearly a half-century of abortion rights, obliterated protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), curtailed government regulatory power, and blurred the separation of church and state.”

The Supreme Court’s shift to the political right was “decades in the making,” but it became solid with the addition of Trump’s appointees. Even with a new Democrat president in office, many Americans felt like captives of the Trump era. “Overall, the federal courts’ system for resolving misconduct and other ethics complaints was marked by a lack of transparency.”

Eighty-three people filed complaints against Justice Kavanaugh when he gave a heated response to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony during his confirmation hearing. “All eighty-three complaints were dismissed by a federal panel of judges.” Though the complaints were serious, “there is no existing authority that allows lower court judges to investigate or discipline Supreme Court Judges.”

In fact, “no one was positioned to conduct a serious investigation.” Justice Roberts understood that Kavanaugh’s confirmation had “bruised the institution,” but maintained that an unshakable principle of the Supreme Court “was that the justices closed ranks against outside critics.” Kavanaugh was confirmed.

Biskupic shows readers the “insular world” of the Supreme Court Justices. Though they privately criticized Justice Thomas’s wife Ginnie, who had “various political schemes”—including those tied to Trump’s effort to reverse the 2020 election results—most Justices did not judge Thomas harshly.

The 1984 Supreme Court ruling, Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, provided “the principle that a court should defer to agencies’ interpretations of their statutory authority.”

However, Robert’s court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s program to limit carbon dioxide emissions at coal-fired plants went beyond the agency’s authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act.

Roberts said that limiting emissions that force a transition away from coal might be “sensible,” but “it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

Clearly, the Justice’s decision was “another departure” from the principle spelled out in Chevron. Biskupic, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is CNN’s senior Supreme Court analyst. She reminds us that the public disapproved of the Court’s decision.

In addition, she says many didn’t like the “consequences of the Court’s decisions in American life […] especially the laying waste to precedents.”

So far, these justices offer no assurance that their work is done. What else will the “Nine Black Robes” do?

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We’d Like to Hear From You!

Not sure who to reach? You can always find us at or 206-329-4848 or check our events calendar for more information.

Want to stop by our office? We have office hours every Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  We’re located at: 

Melbourne Tower

1511 3rd Avenue, Suite 900

Seattle, WA 98101

Executive Committee of the Board of LWVSKC



First Vice-President

Lauren Freedman

Second Vice-President

Barbara Tengtio


Marie Cooley


Carol Levin

Directors of the Board of LWVSKC

Action Chair

Sarah Haeger

Director at Large

Kim Albert

Director at Large

Tami Conrad

not yet available

Director at Large

Pat Griffith

Unit Liaison

Sarah Beth Miller

Voter Services Chair

Paula Barnes

Education Fund of LWVSKC

Executive board members listed above also serve as the Education Fund Board.

Education Fund Treasurer

Joanna Cullen

Committee Chairs for LWVSKC

Economics and Taxation

Kim Albert
Marilee Fuller


Joanna Cullen

City Climate Action

Callie Ridolfi, interim


Cindy Piennett

Observer Corps

Sarah Haeger


Nominating Committee for LWVSKC


Kathy Sakahara


Ellen Barton


Kathy Jorgensen

And if you’re looking for the editor of The Voter, reach out to!

Find us on the web at!

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