Opinion

Editorial: wait until next year

The primary election of 2006 promises to be much more interesting than this year’s, thanks to the ongoing battle over what kind of primary election to conduct.

The controversy began a few years ago when the two major parties led a court challenge against Washington’s blanket primary, in which voters could choose any candidate on the ballot, regardless of party. The top vote-getter in each party advanced. This 70-year-old tradition served the state well, but took away from the parties the absolute power they sought to choose their own candidates. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the parties, resulting in last year’s confusing primary. In 2004, voters were given a new primary in which they had to choose either a Republican, Democrat or Independent ballot. Naturally, being used to voting for whomever they want, they hated it and, by a majority of just over 60 percent, approved an initiative to adopt at “top two” primary ballot. In this scenario, the top two vote getters would advance to the general election regardless of party. This could have resulted in two candidates from a single party making it to the general election ballot but at least they would have been the people’s choices. Predictably, the power-hungry parties hated it and immediately launched another court challenge.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas S. Zilly ruled in favor of the parties. This decision too is being appealed. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will side with the people this time and the top two primary will be upheld. If not, expect voter interest in primary elections to fall dramatically in 2006.

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