Brace for changes as Washington’s early primary vote looms | John Carlson

This is usually the time of year when columnists don’t write about politics because nothing is really going on. But not this year. Washington’s primary elections, which have been held the third week in September for generations, are now scheduled for the third Tuesday in August. And when you enter the voting booth, things will be different.

  • Tuesday, August 5, 2008 1:52pm
  • Opinion

This is usually the time of year when columnists don’t write about politics because nothing is really going on.

But not this year. Washington’s primary elections, which have been held the third week in September for generations, are now scheduled for the third Tuesday in August. And when you enter the voting booth, things will be different.

A half-dozen years ago you could vote for your favorite candidate (or the least objectionable) for each office. In November, the top Republican and Democratic vote-getter would then square off, along with the occasional Libertarian or Green Party member.

A Supreme Court decision ended this “blanket” primary system and after several years of legislation and litigation over a ballot measure, here is what we ended up with.

On Aug. 19, you’ll walk into a polling place (or fill out your absentee ballot) and you can still vote for the candidate of your choice. No more ballots with just one party’s candidates to choose from. Every voter gets the same ballot.

The ballot will indicate the political party each candidate “prefers”. But in November, instead of choosing between the standard bearer in each party, you’ll simply choose between the “top two” vote-getters, period. That likely means no more Libertarians or Green Party members on the November ballot because they will finish back in the pack in the August.

In some legislative districts in Seattle voters probably will choose between two Democrats in November, because the Republican candidate likely will finish behind the top two Democrats vying for the same office. The opposite will happen in some heavily Republican districts in eastern Washington.

This system allows voters maximum choice without requiring them to register by party. It applies to all “partisan” races, which means races where people run on a party label or indicate a party preference.

And speaking of political parties …

There will be a ballot measure on Aug. 19 – Initiative 26, asking whether we should do away with party affiliations for King County executive, tax assessor and the county council. The movement toward nonpartisan county races has been building for 20 years and got a shot of momentum in 1997 when it was suggested by a bipartisan commission recommending changes to the King County Charter (the county Constitution).

But the county council has blocked it ever since, so Initiative 26 was crafted to go over the Council’s head and amend the County Charter via a vote of the people. The council and Ron Sims have responded by putting an “alternative” proposal on the ballot that changes nothing while claiming to do so. It’s only intent is to confuse the voter.

Voters will be asked which of the two measures, Initiative 26 or the council-proposed “alternative” should appear on the November ballot for final approval.

I’ll be supporting Initiative 26. Here’s why. A clankety Democratic Party machine runs King County and it’s engine is based in Seattle. That’s one reason why county government is so reckless and ham-fisted when it comes to dealing with suburban and rural issues, as we saw with the elections office fiasco of 2004 and the stunningly intrusive Critical Areas Ordinance, which the courts have tossed out as unconstitutional.

It’s time to pull the plug on political partisanship in King County. Yes on Initiative 26.

John Carlson hosts a daily radio program with KOMO 4’s Ken Schram each weekday at 9 AM on AM 570 KVI. He also broadcasts daily radio commentary on KOMO 1000 news. E-mail him at jcarlson@fisherradio.com or johncarlson@komoradio.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Points of contention on police inquests in King County

Inquests frequently unfold against a backdrop of sadness and drama: Family members’… Continue reading

Guests gather to view a photo of Pilchuck Julia during the naming ceremony of the Snohomish River boat landing named for her in August, 2019. (Kevin Clark / Herald file photo)
Editorial: What history is owed through our monuments

The decisions regarding whom we honor in our public squares require deliberation and consensus.

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
The search for selfhood

What really matters is the desire to find.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Valley police chiefs of King County release unified message in response to death of George Floyd

Police chiefs of Des Moines, Tukwila, Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Black Diamond and the Port of Seattle pledge to stand with communities.

Pandemic illustrates the need for government action

Despite spending most of my life in government and politics and working… Continue reading

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Helping community organizations as we respond to the coronavirus

Now, more than ever, nonprofits need gifts of time and money