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primary election process


									 WHO'S WATCHING?

Citizens need to know when they go to the bank to deposit hard-earned funds that their
deposit is safe. Similarly they need to feel confident when they go to their polling place
or send their ballot through the mail, that their hard-won right of suffrage is secure. Their
democratic process needs to be safe and reliable from the registration process, the
counting of ballots, and the contents on the ballot, to the certification of the final results.

Washington's Office of the Secretary of State plays a vital and ongoing role in
safeguarding and enhancing the quality and reliability of the entire election process.
This elected office not only serves as the "watchdog" (guardian) of the procedures and
results of elections but also strives continually to make voter registration and voting
increasingly accessible, reliable, and efficient. However, each person also plays a vital
role and has the responsibility to help protect the integrity of the electoral process by
guarding against fraud during voter registration.

You will be asked to get on the Internet and visit the
following websites where you will find some of the
safeguards in place for components of the election process.
You will discover that controversy surrounds at least one
feature of Washington's election process.

ACTIVITY ONE: Campaign Financing in Washington State

Go to . Click on “Resources”

1. What sources of information about campaign financing are available?

Click on “Public Disclosure Commission” and then “About us.”

2. What is the purpose of public disclosure in Washington State?

Click on “Federal Election Commission” and then “About the FEC.”

3. What are the FEC’s duties?

ACTIVITY TWO: Preventing Election Fraud

Go to . Click on “Frequently Asked Questions” under “Online Voter
Registration.” Scan through the questions until you get to one that addresses the
security of online voter registration.

4. How is identity confirmed when someone registers to vote online?

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5. How is a record of the voter’s signature obtained so county elections workers
can verify voter identity?

From , click on “Register to Vote.”

6. What are the five requirements in order to register to vote in Washington State?

From , click on “Voter Registration Rights and Responsibilities” and
then “Mental Competency.”

7. What are the penalties for voting or registering to vote while ineligible?

From , look at the links under “Information for Voters.”

8. Which link will help you if you believe irregularities, discrimination, or fraud
have taken place?

ACTIVITY THREE: The Top 2 Primary

The Top 2 Primary was passed by the people in 2004 as an initiative. In May 2005,
before the new primary system was implemented, the state Democratic, Republican and
Libertarian parties sued in federal court to prevent its implementation. The political
parties argued that the new primary system violated their right to free association.

The federal District Court agreed with them and issued an order in July 2005 prohibiting
the State from implementing the Top 2 Primary. The State appealed, but the Court of
Appeals also agreed with the parties in an order issued in 2006. The State appealed to
the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of I-872. The Court reasoned that,
since this form of primary has never been used, the political parties' challenge was
based on assumptions. The Court decided that it would not nullify the vote of the people
based on speculation.

In August of 2008, the state conducted a Top 2 Primary. Voters did not have to pick a
party ballot and were able to choose among all candidates for each office. In each race,
the two candidates with the most votes advanced to the general election.

It is likely there will be continued litigation over this issue.

The Top 2 Primary

A Top 2 Primary is a type of primary that allows voters to choose among all candidates
running for each office. The two candidates who receive the most support from voters in
the primary qualify for the general election. It allows candidates to file for partisan office

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and list on the ballot a party that they prefer, regardless of whether the candidate has
been nominated or endorsed by that party. Voters do not have to declare a party

The General Election

At the general election, voters are free to choose any candidate for office, regardless of
party affiliation. The votes for each candidate are counted, and the candidate who
receives the most votes in each race is declared the winner.

   9. What form of primary does Washington State use?
   10. Fill in the blank: The Top 2 Primary allows candidates to file for partisan
       office and list on the ballot a party that they prefer, regardless of whether
       the candidate has been ______________ or ______________ by that party.
   11. Does a voter need to declare a party affiliation to vote in the primary?
   12. When might two candidates who align themselves with the same party
       appear on the general election ballot?
   13. How does a minor party or independent candidate appear on the general
       election ballot?
   14. How is the Top 2 Primary different from the general election?

Historical Details
From , click on the “Resources” tab and then “Primary Systems.”
Click on “Blanket Primary.” Read the press release titled “Polls favor modified blanket

Click the back button on your browser twice until you get the “Primary Systems” page
again. Click on “Comparison of Primary Election Systems” and familiarize yourself with
the chart.

Controversy has surrounded our state’s primary system. We voted in a Blanket Primary
from 1935 – 2003. In 2003 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Washington’s
Blanket Primary system unconstitutional because it violated the political parties’ right of
free association.

In 2004, the Washington State Legislature enacted a bill which provided for two
alternative primary systems. The bill established a Top 2 style primary system. Under
the Top 2 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 2 system was declared unconstitutional, the bill provided for a Pick-a-Party
nominating primary. Under the Pick-a-Party Primary, also referred to as a Montana-style
Primary, the voter affiliated with one of the major parties and voted only for candidates
of that party. This is a traditional nominating primary in which one candidate from each

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party advanced to the general election. There is no voter registration by party in our
state, but the voter was required to momentarily affiliate with a party and only vote for
candidates of that party. The voter’s party affiliation was confidential. Minor party and
independent candidates did not appear in the primary. Minor party and independent
candidates held nominating conventions in the spring and then advanced directly to the
general election.

Governor Gary Locke vetoed the portions of the bill that establish the Top 2 Primary. As
a result, the Pick-a-Party Primary took effect. That form of the primary was used in
Washington State in 2004 and 2006. Partisan offices are only on the primary ballot in
even year elections and for that reason, the Pick-a-Party Primary was only used twice.

15. What are the three forms of partisan primary in Washington’s recent history?

ACTIVITY FOUR: What do You Think?

Now that you have taught yourself about the primaries, it is YOUR turn to suggest what
this state should do in its primary system. At the top of a piece of paper, write: "Should
voters be able to choose any candidate on a partisan primary ballot, regardless of the
voter's or the candidate's political-party affiliation?"

Below the question, draw a line down the paper, dividing it into two vertical columns,
labeling one column "Yes" and the other "No." On the Yes side, list as many arguments
as you can for keeping our Pick-a-Party Primary; on the other side, list arguments
against it. For each side, consider how our system might impact the election process in
terms of its integrity, public acceptance, and level of democracy.

When finished, take your list and move to a small group of two or three other students.
Combine your lists into the three to five best arguments for and against a Top 2
Primary. Select a person to record your results. As a group, write a paragraph at the
end that summarizes your collective opinion on this issue. Do you think it should be
continued? Cite the major reason for your opinion.

Now, combine your group and its results with one other group for a total of about six
contributors. Have the two recorders read their results. As one of them records, create a
new paper with all the members' names at the top. Make new yes/no lists that reflect the
group's choice of the best three defenses for each side on the issue. Also, as a group,
discuss your opinions on the Top 2 Primary and then vote. Record the vote and the one
major reason that led the group to that conclusion. Turn in this group paper.

As a class, announce each group's decision and tally the results.

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