Election Day: 10 things to know

Election Day: 10 things to know

Election Day: 10 things to know


by KING 5 News, Associated Press


Posted on November 6, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 6 at 8:49 AM

On Election Day, here is a short list of things to watch as voters have their say in not only choosing the next president, but Washington's next governor, whether or not to legalize gay marriage and marijuana, and many more local and regional races.

1. YOU CAN STILL VOTE IN WASHINGTON (Official Washington State Voters' Guide)

Washington is a vote-by-mail state, but you can also go to a designated voting center in your county where ANY REGISTERED VOTER can vote in-person.

If you received your ballot in the mail, you have until 8 p.m. to return it to a local drop off station.

2. I-502: Washington voters will decide whether to possibly make the state the first in the nation to legalize recreational pot use, setting up a potential showdown with a federal government that backs the drug's prohibition. Initiative 502 would establish a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults over 21 can buy up to an ounce. Recent public polling has showed significant support for the measure.

3. R-74: Three years after approving an expansion to the state's domestic partnership law, voters are getting the final say on whether Washington will join a handful of other states that allow gay and lesbian couples to get married. Referendum 74 asks people to either approve or reject the state's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. That law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, is on hold pending the outcome of the election.

4. I-1240 & I-1185: Possibly adding charter schools to the mix of public school options and continuing a requirement that a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature is necessary to raise taxes are among the choices before Washingtonians today. Voters have considered both ideas many times before. They have repeatedly approved initiatives requiring a supermajority for tax increases, but have rejected the idea of charter schools three times.

5. WHO TURNS OUT? Not all presidential votes are created equal. The candidates have competed furiously for votes in well-established battlegrounds and among constituencies each finds the most favorable. A robust turnout among minorities would favor Obama's re-election; Romney needs to drive up his numbers among working-class white men, a group that has tilted his way in polls.

Obama starts and ends his day in his hometown of Chicago. Romney is in Boston to vote in the morning and take in returns at night, but making a trip in between to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Will the late rush sway votes? Will Obama follow suit?

7. DOES IT FALL TO NEVADA? Of the nine most contested states, five fall in the Eastern time zone, two are on Central time, one is on Mountain time and the last -- Nevada -- is on Pacific. That makes Nevada the last to close, three hours after the first polling place end times in the East. Will the outcome still be unclear by then?

8. PROVISIONAL BALLOTS? Disputes over who is eligible to vote could leave some ballots in limbo. Both sides have armies of lawyers on duty to keep eyes on polling places. When there is a doubt, voters could wind up casting ballots that may not immediately figure into election-night tabulations. Will those ballots come into play later?

9. CALL ME MAYBE? Acrimonious as the campaign was, losing presidential candidates have a tradition of wishing the victor well once his fate is clear. Some calls are placed on election night. Others get put off until morning when the dust fully settles. Should either Obama or Romney wait up by their phones?

10. THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE: Americans will probably know who their next president is on Tuesday night or early Wednesday, but the formal process for picking a president actually extends beyond then.

The Electoral College has the ultimate say. Barring recounts or a tie between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, the exercise is largely academic.

Members of the Electoral College, known as electors, meet in in state capitols or other designated spots in mid-December. Each party has slates of electors, but the one aligned with the winner of that state's popular vote is empowered to cast separate ballots for president and vice president.

It is typically uneventful, but there have been instances of "faithless" electors where a ballot is cast for someone other than that state's prevailing nominees. The ballots are sent to Washington to be formally counted in the Senate on Jan. 6, though the results are usually known that day.

If Obama and Romney finish the Electoral College process at 269-269 -- or no candidate amasses the needed 270 votes because an alternate candidate scores some votes -- the 12th Amendment comes into play. Under that scenario, the newly sworn U.S. House elects the president and the Senate the vice president.

Each House delegation gets a single vote. Republicans are likely to hold a majority of state delegations after Tuesday, but there could be intrigue in the unlikely event that several delegations wind up evenly split. If the Senate remains in Democratic hands, there is a possibility that the Romney could be president and Democratic Vice President Joe Biden his No. 2.

Among the most notable elections was 1824, when Democratic-Republican candidate John Quincy Adams lost the popular vote and was behind in the Electoral College tally but still was chosen as president by the House.

It's Your Time -- Hear directly from the candidates

Candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House taped short segments in which they make their pitch to voters. Watch their statements.

Ad Watch -- Who's telling the truth?

KING 5 News's Robert Mak produces a series of special reports on the television ads barraging viewers in Washington state. Watch.

Up Front Voters' Guide

A one-hour special that aired Oct. 22. Learn more about the candidates for governor and other statewide offices.