A statewide Presidential Primary is the only real way voters in our state can choose their party affiliation and vote for their nominee for President. It’s not a poll, not a survey, not a caucus. All of those have a place in the political process, but each involves only a small percentage of the electorate. In contrast, the Presidential Primary is an official election, administered by county election officials, under state law, where voters cast ballots in secret, and have their ballots counted and reported publicly. Whether the political parties choose to listen to or use those results is secondary. People who want to participate should be able to do so in a manner they are used to and have their voices heard.
As you may recall, I’ve been advocating for a strong voice for all Washington voters during the presidential nominating process by conducting a Presidential Primary. With bipartisan support in both houses, the Legislature budgeted monies for our state to conduct a Presidential Primary in 2016. Unfortunately, we were unable to move our reform bill out of the House. One provision in our bill would have moved the date of the primary to the second Tuesday in March, to insure maximum voter participation and candidate visits to our state. That date is near the front end of the nominating process for both political parties.
Following session, I carried that battle to a special date-setting committee we convened pursuant to the Presidential Primary law. However, Democratic leadership did not support moving to an earlier primary date. As a result, May 24th will be the date for the 2016 Washington State Presidential Primary.
Some have suggested we cancel the whole thing, since the Democratic Party will not be using the results for their national delegate allocation. I have a different take on this. Voters deserve to have their voices heard in a manner they are used to – an election.