Declaring political party on presidential primary election ballot

For any Washington state resident who opened their presidential primary election ballot and were shocked to see they had to declare a political party, this is for you.

The May 25 presidential primary offers voters the opportunity to participate in their state’s nomination of the major party candidates.

According to the Washington Secretary of State, chief election officer, for the presidential primary only, the major political parties require voters to subscribe to a specific party declaration.

To participate in the primary, voters must declare.

Tim Gray, Stevens County Auditor, said in essence voters are declaring a party for a day, but the declaration does not affect how a person can vote in the November election.

The declaration signed on the primary election envelop does have to match the political party of the candidate a voter chooses. If not, the vote cannot be counted. If a ballot is turned in without a declaration, the envelope cannot be opened by the Stevens County elections office. In this case, the voter will receive a letter in the mail.

Party declarations have always been located on the outside of the primary election ballot, noted Gray. It was like that eight years ago in 2008, and before that in 2004. Gray went on to explain that a voter’s declared party choice will be removed from voter registration after 60 days.

Following the Revised Code of Washington 29A.56.050 Party Declarations, both the Republican and Democratic parties submitted party declarations for this year’s primary. However, political parties retain the authority to decide if they will use the presidential primary to allocate delegates to the national nomination conventions. According to the Washington Secretary of State, political parties may also choose to use caucus results, or a combination of primary results and caucus results.

This year, the Republican Party candidate with the most votes from the primary election will receive 100 percent of their convention delegates, according to Shannan Hughes, Stevens County Election Coordinator. The Democratic Party will not use the primary election results to allocate any of their delegates. Instead, they will use the results from their precinct caucuses from March 26.

Read more about the 2016 primary election history and process in the May 18 issue of the Statesman-Examier.