U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour’s decision to uphold Washington’s top-two primary system was itself upheld this past Thursday. (Article, “Appeals court: Top 2 primary OK, recall limits not.”)
Judge Coughenour’s decision (one year ago) not only upholds our state’s new primary election law but it also found the election of major party precinct captains (precinct committee officers, or PCOs) unconstitutional given our new law. In short, Washington doesn’t have voter registration by party, which makes it beyond difficult to guard against rival partisans, real independents and minor partisans from voting in any particular precinct captain race.
Secretary of State Sam Reed decided to delete those races from the ballot. Then the chairs of the two major parties decided to file suit.
Major parties covet the state facilitating the election of their precinct captains, as the imprimatur of the state is of great value. It costs over $250,000 to fund this selection.
Substitute House Bill 1860 attaches PCO elections to the May presidential primary and lengthens the term from two years to four.
There are two misguided notions at play with respect to the bill’s proponents:
1) A presidential primary cures the problem of others participating in a strictly partisan process. It does not, for many valid but arcane rationales.
2) That the people of Washington really want to continue paying for an absolutely partisan operation. Given who we are, the state that will never register by party, ever.
A hearing on SHB 1860 is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday at the state capitol.