Primary election right around the bend

The August 5 primary election is fast approaching and it is the first graded test of the political season for candidates.

Some will win, some will go shopping.

The Washington primary is a top two system, which has been in effect since 2008 following years of court battles.

State House Position No. 2 in the 5th Legislative District is one of the races affected by the top two primary.

Four candidates are running for the representative seat in the 5th: Ryan Dean Burkett, no party preference, incumbent Chad Magendanz, Republican, Democrat David Spring and Colin J. Alexander, also a Democrat.

Mail in ballots

Voters in King County must either mail ballots by Aug. 5 or take ballots to a drop box or ballot van location.

Mailed ballots require first class postage and must be postmarked by Aug. 5.

A ballot van will be located at the Tahoma School District Building, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd, Maple Valley from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 2 and 4 and until 8 p.m. Aug. 5, Election Day. Ballots dropped at a the ballot van do not require postage.


5th Legislative District

• State House

Position No. 1

Essie Hicks, D

Jay Rodne, R

• State House

Position No. 2

Ryan Dean Burkett,

no party preference

Chad Magendanz, R

David Spring, D

Colin J. Alexander, D

47th Legislative District

• State House

Position No. 1

Mark Hargrove, R

Chris Barringer, D

• State House

Position No. 2

Barry Knowles, R

Pat Sullivan, D

• Senate

Carol Barber, D

Joe Fain, R

History of Washington State Primary Systems

The following information was provided by the Secretary of State’s Office .

1807 – 1907

Nominees for partisan offices are chosen either by convention or by petition. In 1907, the Legislature establishes the first direct primary system for partisan candidates

1935 – 2003

Washington state’s “blanket primary” system is established in 1935. Except for presidential primaries, all properly registered voters can vote for their choice at any primary for “any candidate for each office, regardless of political affiliation and without a declaration of political faith or adherence on the part of the voter.”

June 26, 2000

The U.S. Supreme Court rules California’s blanket primary unconstitutional as violating the  political parties’ freedom of association. California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567 (2000).

Following this U.S. Supreme Court case, the constitutionality of Washington’s blanket primary is challenged by the state Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties in U.S. District Court.

September 2000

Secretary of State Ralph Munro begins a series of hearings around the state to gather public input on potential changes to the blanket primary system.

Jan. 12, 2001

The new Secretary of State, Sam Reed, releases a report on the blanket primary hearings. The report shows Washington voters strongly favor retaining the blanket primary system.

March 8, 2002

The Federal District Court in Tacoma upholds Washington’s blanket primary as constitutional. Democratic Party of Washington State v. Reed (W.D. Wash. 2002). The political parties appeal the decision.

Sept. 15, 2003

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holds Washington’s blanket primary system unconstitutional because it violates the political parties’ right of free association. Democratic Party of Washington State v. Reed, 343 F.3d 1198 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1213 (2004).

Nov. 25, 2003

The state of Washington and the Grange petition the United States Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision declaring the blanket primary unconstitutional.

Jan. 8, 2004

The Grange files Initiative 872 with the Office of the Secretary of State. Initiative 872 proposes a “top two” primary system in which a voter has “the right to cast a vote for any candidate for each office without any limitation based on party preference or affiliation of either the voter or the candidate.” .

February 23, 2004

The United States Supreme Court denies the state’s request to review the Ninth Circuit decision. Consequently, the Ninth Circuit opinion declaring Washington’s blanket primary unconstitutional stands.

March 10, 2004

The Washington State Legislature enacts a bill that provides for two alternative primary systems. The bill establishes a top two style primary system. Under the top two approach, the voter does not declare a party affiliation and may vote for any candidate in each race, regardless of the candidate’s party preference. The top two candidates in each race advance to the general election, regardless of political party.

If the top two system is declared unconstitutional, a pick-a-party nominating primary is implemented. April 1, 2004

Gov. Gary Locke vetoes the portions of the bill that establish the top two primary. As a  result, the pick-a-party primary takes effect.

Sept. 2004

The pick-a-party primary is in effect for the September 2004 primary election. By early September, the Office of the Secretary of State receives more than 14,000 calls and letters from voters opposed to the pick-a-party primary.

Nov. 2, 2004

Initiative 872 appears on the general election ballot and is approved by the voters by nearly 60 percent.

May 19, 2005

The Washington state Republican Party files a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle, against Dean Logan, King County Records and Elections Division Manager, and the County Auditors of eight other counties holding partisan elections in 2005.

The Washington State Democratic Central Committee and the Washington State Libertarian Party intervene as plaintiffs.

July 15, 2005

The federal court issues its opinion in the lawsuit challenging the top two primary. Washington State Republican Party v. Logan, 377 F. Supp. 2d 907 (W.D. Wash. 2005). The Court concludes that the top two primary violates the political parties’ First Amendment right of free association by allowing any  voter, regardless of his or her affiliation to the party, to choose the party’s nominee, and allowing any candidate, regardless of party affiliation or relationship to the party, to self-identify as a member of that party and appear on the primary and general election ballot as a candidate for that party. The Court strikes down Initiative 872 in its entirety and specifically states that Washington returns to the pick-a-party primary used in 2004.

Aug. 22, 2006

The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms that Initiative 872 is unconstitutional. Washington State Republican Party v. Washington, 460 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2006).

Feb. 26, 2007

The United States Supreme Court grants the petitions for writ of certiorari filed by the State and the Grange.

Oct. 1, 2007

The United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of a top two primary

March 18, 2008

The United States Supreme Court overturns the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and upholds the constitutionality of Initiative 872. The Court rules that, on its face, I-872 does not impose a severe burden on the political parties’ associational rights and that the parties’ arguments that voters will be confused can only be evaluated once the primary is implemented. Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, et al., 552 U.S. 442, 128 S. Ct. 1184, 170 L. Ed. 2d 151 (2008).

Aug. 19, 2008

Washington state conducts the first real top two primary in the country. The primary system is extremely popular with the public. Following the primary election, surveys reveal that 76 percent of voters like the top two primary.

Aug. 18, 2009

Several counties in Washington conduct a top two primary for particular legislative and partisan county offices. The public continues to respond positively to this form of primary.

Aug. 17, 2010

Washington state conducts another top two primary for partisan county, legislative, and  congressional elections. Voters and candidates appreciate the focus on the candidates, not political parties.

Jan. 11, 2011

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (Case No. C05-0927- JCC) grants summary judgment in favor of the state. The Court concluded, “Washington has implemented I-872 uniformly consistent with several of the ‘ways’ the Supreme Court envisioned would be consistent with the Constitution, and this Court therefore concludes that I-872 complies with the Constitution.”

Jan. 19, 2012

The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the Top Two Primary. Washington  State Republican Party v. Washington Grange, (No. 11-35122, W.D. Wash. 2011). The Court held, “Given the design of the ballot, and in the absence of evidence of actual voter confusion, we hold that Washington’s top two primary system, as implemented by the state, does not violate the First Amendment  associational rights of the state’s political parties …”


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