As Election Day looms, local leaders are preparing to face off on the debate stage over Washington’s most pressing issues just before ballots hit the mail.
A virtual debate is slated between candidates for lieutenant governor U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marco Liias at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22. The event is hosted by the Washington State Debate Coalition (WSDC) and Seattle City Club, and will air on local TV channels and online.
Gubernatorial candidates Gov. Jay Inslee and Loren Culp participated in a debate on Oct. 7.
“Washington has a long tradition of open political debates and we are proud to be the nonpartisan organization that brings transparent candidate discourse to all of the state’s citizens,” said Laura Lockard, chairperson of the WSDC and board member of Seattle City Club. “This year, we have made access to the debates available on every screen, from phone and tablet, to desktop and television. In addition, we have developed a question submittal site where anyone in the state can suggest a question for the candidates.”
Viewers are encouraged to tune into the livestream and submit questions to potentially be asked during the debate, according to WSDC. An advantage of the virtual format is that questions will come from all over the state, not just within a debate hall, Lockard said.
Due to COVID-19 limitations, the moderators will be seated at socially distanced desks in the main studio, while the candidates will be in two separate offices elsewhere in the building.
Given the historical nature of this debate during a pandemic, the coalition is asking people to participate safely by hosting their own virtual watch parties. WSDC has developed a Debate Watch Party Pack, including games, trivia and quizzes available at wadebate.org.
Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director at AARP Washington, a major sponsor of the WSDC, aims to increase voter turnout among younger generations. She said older adults are concerned that younger voters “do not understand the power of each and every vote."
“This year, the virtual format gives our older adults a chance to engage in a conversation with younger generations, particularly with the many college students following social issues while attending school online at home,” MacCaul said.
The Office of the Secretary of State is encouraging voters to start preparing for the general election Nov. 3 by celebrating National Voter Education Week from Oct. 5-9. According to Lori Augino, the office’s director of elections, National Voter Education Week is intended to ensure citizens get election information from trusted, reliable sources.
Local voters’ pamphlets will be mailed to residents Oct. 13, while the general election ballots will be sent Oct. 14. King County Elections said ballot drop boxes will open Oct. 15.
“Whether people are registering to vote for the first time or have been voting for years, it’s good to be prepared, especially for a general election during a pandemic that is changing the way America is conducting elections,” Augino said.
Local King County ballot boxes are located at:
17105 Avoldale Road. N.E.
Duvall Police Department/Depot Park
26225 NE Burhen Way
12315 NE 143rd Street
Bothell City Hall
18415 101st Avenue NE
Kenmore City Hall
18120 68th Avenue NE
Redmond City Hall
15670 NE 85th Street