Op-Ed

Voters must pick party for presidential primary

Kimberly Boulanger watches ballots fly out of a ballot counting machine in 2012 at the Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. The machine reads 400 ballots a minute. Each voter’s identification is kept confidential and each ballot is hand inspected before being run through the ballot counting machine. A few stacks of ballots are hand counted after being run through the machine to verify accuracy.
Kimberly Boulanger watches ballots fly out of a ballot counting machine in 2012 at the Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. The machine reads 400 ballots a minute. Each voter’s identification is kept confidential and each ballot is hand inspected before being run through the ballot counting machine. A few stacks of ballots are hand counted after being run through the machine to verify accuracy. The Bellingham Herald

The ballots are in the mail for the Washington State presidential primary election. If you are going to vote in this election, your ballots must be returned in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on May 24 or have a postmark by that date. To assure its timely arrival in our office, I would strongly suggest you drop your ballot in one of our drop boxes. A list of those can be found on our website or in the ballot materials mailed to you.

The last time we had a presidential primary election was in 2008, when President Obama first ran.

The Republican Party will use the results of this election; the Democratic Party determined their choices using the caucus system a few weeks ago.

This election is a party election conducted by the election offices throughout the state and follows state and party rules established for this specific election. The main difference is that this is the one election where you have to indicate the party you identify with and you must vote for a candidate on the slate for that same party.

If you don’t pick a party, but mail your ballot, you will hear back from us on how to correct this. If you pick a party and the vote doesn’t match the party you chose, the ballot will not be counted. (We will be able to tell this because we have to sort the ballots by party and then after the ballots are removed from their secrecy sleeve, if any ballots are for the other party they will just be set aside and not counted.)

If you pick both parties, your ballot won’t even be opened, and your vote will not be counted.

For this election only, the information on party selection will be available on our registration system for 60 days and the parties have the right to get a listing of these names. They may contact you with further mailings in the future.

We know this is not popular with many people and it is true, many people will probably sit this one out. But this election was established by the state legislature and we are required to conduct it. For this year, the Republican Party will use the results of this election; the Democratic Party determined their choices using the caucus system a few weeks ago. This presidential primary often occurs in the year that both parties are putting forward new candidates as opposed to one party having an incumbent who is running. That is why you don’t remember having one in 2012. Now it is 2016. Both parties are submitting new candidates and as you have seen for at least the past six months or more the political arena has gone crazy. Who could have imagined it?

Debbie Adelstein is the Whatcom County auditor.

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