Kshama Sawant now ahead in the effort to recall her as more votes counted

This is a mini blog for the special election on whether to recall Kshama Sawant, the controversial Seattle City Council member.

Call her the comeback-kid. Kshama Sawant has yet again made up the wide gulf of votes between Election Night and the days following, when more progressive votes tend to be counted. The difference a hair above half a percent, with the recall effort still ahead.


Sawant netted more support in Friday’s vote tally. She now leads by 249 votes. Sawant also held a news conference Friday and said that she had won an “apparent” victory.

Hundreds of ballots are being double checked because of questions over signatures.

King County Elections will certify the results on Dec. 17.

PRO-RECALL (Sawant leaves): 49.7% (20,218 votes)

ANTI-RECALL (Sawant stays): 50.3% (20,467 votes)


Thursday’s vote count puts City Councilmember Kshama Sawant ahead of the pro-recall effort. She now leads by 232 votes.

PRO-RECALL (Sawant leaves): 49.7% (20,183 votes)

ANTI-RECALL (Sawant stays): 50.3% (20,415 votes)


PRO-RECALL (Sawant leaves): 50.3% (19,733 votes)

ANTI-RECALL (Sawant stays): 49.7% (19,487 votes)

Difference: 246 votes, or 0.06% difference.


PRO-RECALL (Sawant leaves): 53%

ANTI-RECALL (Sawant stays): 47%

We know that votes counted later tend to be more left-leaning, i.e. favoring Kshama Sawant. But there aren’t many votes to be counted, if King County Elections predictions of 50% voter turnout are correct.

Votes remaining (updated at 10 a.m. Wednesday): 8825

If Sawant wins 100% of remaining vote: 58% total (stays)

If Sawant wins 75% of remaining vote: 53% total (stays)

Sawant must win 61.5% of the remaining votes to stay (a single vote win)

If Sawant wins 50% of remaining vote: 48% total (ousted)

This is a tall order given that she received 47% of the votes counted as of Tuesday night. But vote count swings in Seattle have been significant in recent history, particularly in District 3.

Could this result in a recount?

King County Elections says that recounts aren’t required for local ballot measures, which this is.

Per King County: “A recount is required when the votes for an office or statewide measure fall within a certain range. There is no required recount range for local ballot measures.”

Photo slideshow from Chop Suey, where Kshama Sawant spoke after the results came in:

caption: The night of Kshama Sawant's recall vote. Sawant supporters gather at Chop Suey in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood on December 7, 2021.  Slideshow Icon 7 slides

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The basics:

The voters of District 3 in Seattle, which includes Montlake and Capitol Hill, will decide whether to remove Councilmember Kshama Sawant from office, two years before the end of her term. Sawant was elected a third time in 2019.

  • Leading the charge against Sawant are members of the business community, particularly landlords, who oppose her tenant rights efforts.
  • This is the first-ever recall vote for a Seattle City council member. A Seattle mayor was recalled in the 1930s.

What Kshama Sawant’s campaign says about this recall effort:

“Kshama, an immigrant woman of color, is being attacked for participating in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. This recall is part of the racist right-wing backlash attempting to criminalize protest nationally.

“Big business and the right wing want to remove Kshama because she’s such an effective fighter for working people.

“Rather than appeasing the establishment, Kshama has used her 8 years in office to win historic victories like the $15 minimum wage and Amazon Tax to fund housing. Rather than taking home the $140,000 Councilmembers pay themselves, Kshama lives on an average worker’s wage and donates the majority of her salary to social justice movements.”

7:40 p.m. photo of the Recall Sawant group

caption: Supporters of the "Recall Sawant" campaign, to oust the Socialist councilmember, gather for its election night party on December 7, 2021. The group says it received threats and was therefore not disclosing its location.

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From this morning’s Today So Far newsletter by Dyer Oxley, which remains on the nose after the first ballot drop:

We don’t usually know the final election results until days after the election. See the 2019 election between Sawant and challenger Egan Orion: Sawant was losing on election night with about 47% of the vote. But as more votes were counted over the next few days, Sawant secured a win with nearly 52%.

My Dyer prediction: just like in 2019, this will be close. Sawant has slowly shed support over the years as she maintains a divisive stance on the dais. Among recall supporters are unions that once backed her.

The guy who started the whole recall effort even lost his job over it. But that divisiveness is not necessarily what the recall movement is built on. It’s based on three main charges which Sawant’s campaign rejects. This special election has certainly garnered interest in and outside of Seattle. Sawant’s campaign has financially outraised the recall camp. And voter turnout is strong so far with nearly 39% (29,751) of ballots returned.

Reporter David Hyde breaks it down with this analysis:

Technically, it’s a contest over three formal charges that Sawant broke the law, but for many voters in District 3, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central Area, it’s a referendum on Sawant’s politics and her political style.

Recall manager Henry Bridger said the election is “only about the charges.”

“I don’t like that politicians manipulate the system and violate the laws that they’re supposed to uphold,” he said.

But at a recent Capitol Hill farmers market, most voters, including Johathan Ehrich, couldn’t remember any of the specific charges. He was clear on why he opposed the recall.

“It’s good to have a very strong left-wing voice, and with the Council moving further to the right after the general election,” Ehrich said.

Read on…

The three charges, annotated by reporter David Hyde:

Charge: Used City resources to support a ballot initiative and failed to comply with the public disclosure requirements related to such support;

Context: This charge claims that Sawant used city resources for a “Tax Amazon” ballot initiative campaign. Sawant said she’s already paid the fine. She also noted that other council members have also violated those campaign ethics rules without being recalled.

Charge: Disregarded state orders related to COVID-19 by admitting hundreds of people into City Hall on June 9, 2020 when it was closed to the public;

Context: Sawant says she broke no law, and that’s what Seattle police said at the time.

Charge: Led a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s private residence, the location of which Councilmember Sawant knew was protected under state confidentiality laws.

Context: This relates to an incident that occurred at the height of the Black Lives Matter protest movement two summers ago, when protesters showed up to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home. Sawant is accused of leading the march to the mayor’s house.

As a former U.S. Attorney, Durkan’s address is protected information under the state’s “Address Confidentiality Program.”

Sawant said that she was only invited to speak at the rally, where the organizers included family members of people who have been killed by Seattle police. She accepted that invitation “in solidarity,” but didn’t organize it.

Article Source: KUOW