Presidential Primary voting season under way
Washington counties are sending about 65,000 Presidential Primary ballots to military and overseas voters this week. This signals the start of voting on favorites for the Republican and Democratic nominations.
The rest of the state’s 4 million voters will get their ballots early next month. The 18-day voting period begins May 6, and ballots must be returned or postmarked by May 24.
Military and overseas voters, including Peace Corps volunteers, missionaries, business people and other Washington citizens living abroad, get a head start. Federal law requires that military and overseas voters get ballots 45 days before Election Day.
The last day for online or mail-in voter registration or changing ones address is April 25.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted a robust turnout — at least 42 percent. She said:
“I have never seen Washington voters so engaged in the presidential primary contests on both sides of the aisle. “It’s true that we’re late in the cycle, but both parties still have fiercely contested races still under way.”
Both parties also held caucuses, with Democrats using theirs as the method of allocating national convention delegates. Republicans will use the primary to allocate their delegates.
The state’s Presidential Primary law, passed overwhelmingly by Democratic and Republican lawmakers as a citizen Initiative to the Legislature in 1989, provides for the quadrennial election, but leaves it to the parties what they choose to do with the results, noted state Elections Director Lori Augino.
Republicans have always used the primary to allocate at least half of their delegates. Wyman attempted to persuade Democrats to use the Primary, calling it far more inclusive and attractive to voters than the caucuses. The Democratic State Central Committee voted to stick with the caucuses in 2016, and Democrats did not support the Secretary’s effort to move the primary to early on the calendar, March 8.
“My message now is that the Presidential Primary is for all – it gives our state a voice in the process,” Wyman said. “Our Legislature and governor, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers, voted to fund this election and the turnout should be robust.”