Newprimary system in place

Published on Thu, Aug 19, 2004 by hirley Forslof

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New primary system in place

By Shirley Forslof

Many voters are aware that there will be a change in the way the September 14 primary election is going to be conducted.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declared our popular blanket primary unconstitutional. The legislature adopted a new primary law this year that was partially vetoed by govenor Gary Locke. The new primary process is known as “open primary, private choice.”

This new primary process will only be in effect for the September primary election and there is no change in voting for November’s general election.

What are the changes? Voters in Whatcom County, whether they vote by absentee ballot or at the polls will receive four ballots, a democratic, republican, libertarian and non-partisan ballot. Voters who choose to affiliate with a party will choose that party ballot and vote for that party’s candidates as well as non-partisan judicial offices and the office of superintendent of public instruction. Although party affiliation is inferred by choosing a political party ballot, no record will be made of the political party ballot you select.

Voters who decline to affiliate with any party are permitted to vote on the non-partisan offices by selecting the non-partisan ballot.
Absentee voters are instructed to return one voted absentee ballot. If two partisan voted absentee ballots are returned, the partisan offices will not be counted. The three unused ballots are to be destroyed by the voter. At the poll, voters will deposit one voted ballot in the voted ballot box and the other three blank punch card ballots will be deposited into the not voted ballot box.

The primary is still an important part of our voting process, as this is the place where the parties will pick their candidates for the general election ballot. Opting out of the primary leaves the decision to others. I would encourage voters to study the races and then vote.
(Shirley Forslof is Whatcom County Auditor)