Full steam ahead for WA Presidential Primary

220742_414712298593841_117097651_oSOS: August 18th 2015

Washington is moving forward with plans for a May 24 Presidential Primary in 2016, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Monday.

Wyman has met with the state Elections Division to give the green light for continued implementation of the May Presidential Primary.

The important point is that the voters of Washington will get an opportunity to express themselves, to vote on how they feel about who should be their party’s nominee for president of the United States, said Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer.

The question of what the parties do with the results is entirely up to the parties, she said. For our office and the elections community across the state, the emphasis will be on making sure this important election is administered in a fair and accessible and accurate manner. I have great confidence in our 39 county auditors and election directors.

Wyman herself has been involved in administering all four of the previous presidential primaries, as Thurston County staffer, Elections Director and County Auditor.

A presidential primary is very exciting and people really get engaged, she said. It is certainly a different kind of election, since voters will be asked to declare a party affiliation and to vote only on that party’s list of candidates. The parties have a First Amendment right of association that limits access to their nominating process to their self-identified members.

Last week, four Democratic members of the Presidential Primary Committee blocked efforts by Wyman and four Republican Party leaders to move the default date of May 24 to much earlier in the primary season, March 8.

Wyman said that was a disappointing outcome, and that an earlier date would have maximized voter participation and visits from candidates. But she said the Legislature funded the election and the default date of May 24 now has been affirmed, so it’s full steam ahead.

State Elections Director Lori Augino said three training workshops are planned for election administrators around the state in September.

Our elections community has been closely watching the fate of the Presidential Primary for months and they are energized about engaging the voters of Washington, she said.

Our Presidential Primary law adopted by the Legislature in 1989 as an Initiative to the Legislature is the only statewide process that allows voters to have their voices heard in a way they are used to, voting for candidates on a ballot in an official public primary election,” Wyman said.

Both parties will be holding caucuses. The Democrats are on March 26. The Democrats have said they will use the caucus/convention process to allocate all of the state’s national convention delegates. Republicans caucus date has not been set. GOP leaders have said they expect the party to use primary results for at least half of their national delegation.

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