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Community members push back on criticism of pop-up voting centers led by Sawant supporters

On Dec. 1, numerous Kshama Sawant supporters were dotted across Capitol Hill in pop-up tents printing out ballots.

SEATTLE — Some community members are pushing back on the idea that pop-up voting stations operated by supporters of Socialist Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant go too far.

On Dec. 1, numerous Sawant supporters were dotted across Capitol Hill in pop-up tents printing out ballots for the single-issue recall election on Dec. 7. It wasn't a secret operation, as the tents all advertised the fact that they were there for the process, with Sawant supporters pulling up information to cross-reference registration status. 

They are also legal, according to King County Elections.

A Seattle Times op-ed, however, stated the stations should not be allowed to keep "municipal elections clear of hands-on activism."

Now, Black community leaders, including Seattle Black Panther Party Chapter Aaron Dixon, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Rev. Robert Jeffrey and former King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, are denouncing calls to outlaw measures that are "making voting more accessible to this election, particularly low-income communities and in communities of color."

Banning such voting stations would be similar to vote suppression done by political leaders in other states, such as Texas and Georgia, a statement reads.

Kendall LeVan Hodson, chief of staff at the elections office, previously heard concerns from some voters in Sawant's District 3 about the process and said it is the equivalent of filling out a provisional ballot. King County has an "alternate format team," which will confirm the registration to the ballot.

LeVan Hodson also said there are no laws that prohibit ballot collection in Washington.

"So, technically, you are welcome to entrust your ballot to whomever you want to turn in," said LeVan Hodson. King County Elections recommends that ballots be turned in by a trusted friend or family member.

The issue comes on the eve of the single-issue election. Sawant, who faces accusations that she violated her office three separate times, could be recalled before her term ends in 2023. Only voters from District 3, totaling more than 76,000, will decide.