Bellingham Initiative #4, which would impose $4/hour hazard pay and secure scheduling requirements for all employees in Bellingham, appears headed to a resounding defeat. Election night tallies show the measure being defeated by more than 22 points (61.4% versus 38.76%).
Election night counts include ballots completed in the County’s four voting centers and those returned early by mail and dropbox. Ballots will continue to be received over the next three weeks, and Whatcom County will report daily counts until all ballots are tallied. However, initial data suggests that it will be nearly impossible for later ballots to reverse this remarkable outcome.
According to Whatcom County, overall voter turnout was about 32%, with an estimated 10,000 ballots remaining to be counted across the County. Although total ballot counts will increase as the County receives them, the math suggests that Bellingham voters have overwhelmingly rejected Initiative 4.
In September, polling showed broad voter support in Bellingham for Initiative 4; however, that study also showed that voters were responsive to concerns from local small businesses, non-profits, and City leaders. With the leadership of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, an education and engagement campaign focused on local small businesses was initiated. Additionally, the City Council, Mayor, and four previous Mayors urged voters to reject the measure. Importantly, the non-profit sector alerted voters that their ability to provide needed services to the community would be adversely impacted.
The Washington Retail Association is pleased with the broad coalition that came together to assist Bellingham businesses, non-profits, and City leaders in educating voters about the impacts of Initiative 4. We are very grateful for the support and engagement of WR members in supporting the efforts to defeat this important issue.
WR will provide regular updates as more votes are tallied over the next three weeks.