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Secretary of State proposes changes to Washington presidential primary

A proposal by Secretary of State Kim Wyman would require political parties to use 2016 Washington presidential primary results — and also would require primary voters to declare a party affiliation publicly.

Washington’s presidential primaries don’t determine the delegates for the Democratic and Republican parties. Both parties choose their delegates via caucus. Wyman’s predecessor Sam Reed canceled the 2012 presidential primary, saving $10 million.

Wyman said she hopes the change will give voice to the voters, most of whom either cannot participate in the party caucuses or choose not to.

“This is our opportunity to showcase Washington and our issues for the presidential candidates,” she said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Wyman noted that presidential primaries attract 10 times the participants as caucuses. She also told reporters that the leaderships of the parties did not raise any objections when she approached them with the plan last year.

Under Wyman’s proposal, both parties would have until Oct. 1 to agree to use primary results in their delegate selection processes. The proposal doesn’t prescribe how much weight the parties should put on the primary results.

The primary would be the only election in which a voter would be asked his or her party preference. However, voters’ party preferences would be public, according to Wyman’s plan.

Under the plan, the primary election date would be March 8, 2016. The primary would cost $11.5 million, Wyman said.

If both parties don’t agree to the plan, then the primary would use a single ballot with all candidates. No party declaration or oath would be required and no record kept of party affiliation.

Wyman’s request has been introduced in both chambers, under bills SB 5978 and HB 2139.

Watch the press conference in TVW’s archives.