Angry voters react

The influx of comments by angry primary voters has continued at the Island County Auditor’s Office.

Voters who are disgruntled with the state’s new primary system have besieged the office with messages scrawled on ballots and in person since absentee ballots were mailed out.

Last week, the Auditor’s Office received a ballot on which a voter had written, “I will not vote in this Nazi-style election.”

This week, a voter entered the office and accosted employees. The person then threw the ballot before leaving.

“That’s the first person I’ve had come in and throw something at me,” Voter Registration Deputy Michele Reagan said. “People are resistant to change.”

These are not isolated incidents, Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said. She said she has been walking in to work every morning since ballots were mailed Aug. 27 to find a stack of letters and returned ballots.

“We tell people they should direct comments to the state legislature or the governor,” Sinclair said. “That is the closest and better place to direct comments.”

Washington state’s modified Montana-style primary became law after a court of appeals found the previously used blanket primary was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, having ruled earlier that California’s primary -- patterned after Washington’s -- was unconstitutional.

Under the new system, voters must align with a political party, but only for the primary.

“The issue was declared at a federal level,” Sinclair said. “To reverse that would require federal action.”

The lawsuit that successfully sought to throw out the state’s old “open” primary system was filed by the state Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties. In that system, voters could vote for whomever they wanted.

Sinclair said people should still vote, even if they are not satisfied with the new system. Voters have argued the new system limits their freedom to choose. For the 30 percent of Island County voters who still go to the polls, election day is Sept. 14.

A Langley woman sent Sinclair her unused absentee ballot and a letter. Sinclair said the letter stated that the woman would not vote because, “Our state took away one of my rights and one of my freedoms... It is a disgrace and I will not participate in it.”

Nothing has changed for the general election Nov. 2. Voters will still be able to vote for whomever they want, regardless of party.

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