Secretary Wyman’s statement on Presidential Primary bill
OLYMPIA… Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman testified today before the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee in favor of Senate Bill 5333, urging its passage. The measure would move Washington’s Presidential Primary to a more nationally relevant date, as well as allow voters to declare no party affiliation when voting in the primary.
“Washington State is always looking for ways to increase participation and voter engagement. Participation in caucuses has consistently been between 3 and 6 percent of the state’s registered voters,” Wyman said. “In contrast, participation in the state’s presidential primaries has consistently been significantly higher, with two over 42 percent.
“In 2016, with robust caucus turnout for both major political parties, just over 300,000 people participated. Compare that with the May Presidential Primary – 1.4 million registered voters – 800,000 Democrats and 600,000 Republicans declared their party affiliation and cast a ballot. This was when the nominees of both parties had already been determined. Imagine what our turnout and the impact on the process may have been if our primary had been held in March when many candidates were still in the race.
“An earlier Presidential Primary date will improve the relevance of the event in the national nominating process by allowing Washington voters to vote earlier. It will also provide the opportunity for many more voters to have their voices heard, while still preserving the political parties’ confidence that those casting a party ballot are members of their respective parties. Finally, this bill allows some flexibility in date setting if other western states want to have a primary on the same day.
“Our goal is to secure our voters’ voice in the nominating process. We all benefit when candidates for the most powerful office in the world understand our state. This bill helps us achieve that.”