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Washington, Idaho Voters To Cast Presidential Primary Ballots Tuesday

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington and Idaho are among six states that will hold presidential primaries tomorrow [Tuesday]. It’s a day some are calling Big Tuesday.

It’s the first time Washington’s primary has been this early and the state’s top election official is happy about that.

Washington voters used to cast their ballots in presidential primaries in late May. But in many past campaigns, the parties had essentially already determined their nominees and so Washington’s primary had little value. Secretary of State Kim Wyman and others pushed for an earlier contest and, last year, the legislature agreed to it.

Given the wild Democratic race, what does Wyman think about the early primary now?

"What’s the old adage?" she asks with a chuckle. "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it?”

Joking aside, Wyman says this is the type of scenario she was envisioning.

“And I think we’re going to get some national coverage, certainly, on Election Night and I think we’re going to see candidates, the two remaining candidates, come and campaign here," she said.

Ballots have been in the hands of voters for a couple of weeks. Wyman says it’s hard to say how many people who voted early wish they could have their ballots back.

“We have certainly had a few calls from voters who said, ‘Oh shoot, I voted and my candidate just dropped out. Can I have a new ballot?’ No, you can’t. Once you put your ballot in a dropbox or the mailbox, you have voted and there’s no way to give you a second chance on that," Wyman said.

She says one complaint from voters is that, if they want their vote to be counted, they have to check a box, designating themselves as either Democrat or Republican, at least for this election. She’s not wild about that either. She’s a Republican, but didn’t check the party affiliation box, nullifying her own vote.

“I believe that we should have a third option," she said. "We could have an unaffiliated choice where voters could not declare a party and vote for either, whatever candidate they wanted. The counties and the state would report those results alongside the Democrat and Republican returns. We did that in 1996, as well as 2000. Voters love it.”

She wishes the legislature would allow the state to return to that.

Wyman expects more than a million people will cast ballots in this primary, which she considers a pretty good turnout. She encourages voters to get their ballot in ASAP, just in case events related to the coronavirus lead to interruptions in the voting process.

You must return your ballot to a drop box by Tuesday at 8 pm or have a Tuesday or earlier postmark if you’re mailing it.


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