Presidential primary on horizon for Washington voters


Staff writer

On Feb. 9 and 19, Washington voters have the opportunity to say who they want their political party to nominate as the commander in chief in the other Washington — Washington D.C.

“In a few weeks, we may see candidates and campaigns across our communities,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said. “Participating in the nomination of the next president of the United States is one opportunity voters do not want to miss.”

The race is without an incumbent president or former vice president among the choices, the first such primary since 1952. The election marks the state’s first presidential primary since 2000 and Washington, like many other states, moved its primary date back, making results more relevant on the national scene.

Washington’s 3.2 million and Clallam County’s more than 43,300 registered voters can participate in the nomination of a presidential candidate through the primary vote and through a party caucus vote.

“The Democrat caucus votes will determine which Democratic candidate will be the state’s pick, as the party uses 100 percent of that vote in its tally, effectively excluding primary ballot results,” Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand said. “Then the Republican caucus makes up 49 percent of their party’s pick from the state, while including primary ballot results to make up the other 51 percent.”

Many voters have expressed outrage that votes from the primary ballot have zero effect on the Democratic Party’s candidate choice and that only half of the Republican Party primary election votes will be counted for its candidate, which is why caucus organizers are expecting large turnouts in the state this year. The statewide primary ballot is estimated to cost $9.5 million.

Both parties will hold their caucuses at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 in

locations around the county. Caucus organizers said showing up early for party registration and information is a good practice, especially if crowds of voters show.

Voters will be required to take an oath to their party of choice, much like on the primary ballot, and identify a candidate preference or that they are uncommitted at the onset of the caucus. Voters can leave the caucus early but may not be counted in subsequent votes. Additional rules will be read aloud by caucus organizers to ensure all in attendance understand the process.

Voters must be registered in the precinct of the caucus in order to cast a party vote. Those who are registered in a place other than where they currently live can register the day of the caucus in order to place a caucus vote.

“The deadline to register to vote on the primary ballot has passed,” Rosand said of the Feb. 19 nomination primary. “But people can still register to vote in the August state primary or November general election.”

Rosand sent primary ballots out to voters Jan. 30. The Crescent School District is the only area with an item to vote on other than the party’s presidential pick, a special levy increase.

Voters may participate in both the primary and the caucus system as long as it is on behalf of the same political party. Reed indicated although the political parties will use the primary results differently to allocate delegates to the national nominating conventions, he believes Washington’s presidential primary is meaningful.

“Every vote matters because what we are really doing is determining the electability of presidential frontrunners,” Reed said. “People vote with their hearts and minds. It’s chemistry, not arithmetic, that will determine our country’s next chief executive.”

While the eyes of the nation may look at Washington the second week of February to see how yet another state would vote for president, the candidates themselves actually vie for delegate votes. The delegates are elected or chosen on a state or local level and assemble at a party convention in August to vote on which party candidate will be the frontrunner at the August primary.

For example, a Democratic candidate who wins 30 percent of the February caucus vote in Washington would get 30 percent of the state’s delegates. The Republican Party allots delegates in a similar way but includes results from the primary election to distribute delegates to candidates.

Some delegates are elected officials, such as a state senator, while eligible caucus voters generally fill the majority of other delegate positions.

To learn more about the election process or to get a voter’s pamphlet, visit the Secretary of State’s Web site,

“People can still register to vote in the August state primary or November general election.”

– Patty Rosand, county auditor

To find which Republican Party caucus location represents your precinct, visit For East End residents, the locations include:

• Sequim Middle School cafeteria, 503 N. Sequim Ave.

• Van Winkle residence (for Bell Hill only), 1353 Doe Run Road

To find which Democratic Party caucus location represents your precinct, visit For East End residents, the locations include:

• Helen Haller Elementary, 350 W. Fir St.

• Greywolf Elementary, 171 Carlsborg Road

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