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Party Declaration Required

State adopts new primary ballot

A full-bore write-in candidacy will have to wait until the general election in November because this primary is partisan only.

Klickitat County last weekn released its new primary election ballot. The tri-color "consolidated ballot" only ap├┐proximates the official ballot, said Klickitat County Auditor Diana Housden.

There are some colorization issues yet to be decided, she noted, but basically what you see is what it will be.

In races on this ballot with inter-party primary competitions, candidates generally advance to the general election; precinct officers in this primary election do not. For those races, the primary is the only election.

What people will see as early as Aug. 25 is essentially a copy of the King County primary ballot. The new ballot that made its way past focus groups in King County has

gone through massive changes, Housden said.

The primary system that Washington used for 78 years was ruled unconstitutional 11 months ago in the federal 9th District Circuit Court.

Primary election solutions offered by state Senate Bill 6453 gained Washington a Montana-style primary rather than the "top two" plan employed by Louisiana. The Montana system requires a party declaration.

For the primary election, scheduled on Sept. 14, each voter must declare a party allegiance in writing, then cast primary votes within that party only.

Crossover votes will not count, Housden said. If no preference is declared, the ballot will not count on any level.

This is a form of selecting a voting system by default. Housden said that a "top two" primary system was chosen by both houses of the state Legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Gary Locke, leaving only the rider plan, the Montana-style primary.

Housden said she believes some of the declaration requirements in this primary are driven by partisan politics. "That's bare bones," said Housden.

The system also makes crossover voting tougher. "You can vote all over this thing, but only party votes count," Housden said.

The office of the Secretary of State set aside $6 million for statewide voter education and ad campaigns to help elections officials explain the new primary. Groups wishing to have the new ballot and primary explained can contact the county Auditor's Office.

Housden will explain the new ballot and answer questions during two upcoming public meetings, next Wednesday, Aug. 25, 7-9 p.m., at the White Salmon Community Library, and next Thursday, Aug. 26, 7-9 p.m., at the PUD building in Goldendale.

To view a sample ballot, log on to the Auditor's homepage at www.klickitatcounty.org, then click on the Election & Voter Info link. Under the Sample Ballot-Consolidated Format heading, hit "click for details."

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