Washington’s top-two primary: What it is and how it works

Washington’s top-two primary: What it is and how it works

Voting has begun for Washington’s 2018 Primary Election, for which ballots can be submitted in county drop boxes or via postage-paid U.S. Mail until Election Day, August 7.

This year, Primary’s ballots include groups of candidates vying to collect enough votes to make the General Election, for which ballots are due Nov. 6. Across America, states use a variety of systems to winnow down fields of candidates to finalists, as the National Conference of State Legislatures describes here.

In 2004, Washington became the first state to adopt a top-two primary system for statewide and legislative elections. Since then, California and Nebraska have moved to top-two primaries; Louisiana has a similar electoral process in place as well.

So, what is a top-two primary? The name goes a long way to describe it: All candidates from every party for an office appear in a single group on the Primary ballot, and the two who collect the highest number of votes advance to the General Election.

The Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State has put together a thorough FAQ to the top-two primary process. Within it, voters and interested observers can learn answers including:

If only 1 or 2 candidates file for an office, do they still have a Primary?

Will there be both a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot at the General Election?

How did the Top 2 Primary become law?

Can a voter still write in a candidate?

Read all about the process here, and don’t forget to return your ballot by August 7!

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