Washington's new Top Two primary cuts the clutter
August 14, 2008 · Updated 9:12 AM
One of the benefits of the new Top 2 Primary in Washington is that it cuts the clutter on the November ballot.
Minor parties have been complaining about the Top 2 because they no longer get an automatic entry on the general election ballot. Now, only the top two primary vote-getters for each race will be listed. That leaves out the Greens, Libertarians, Socialist Workers and other small parties.
As a result, the general election ballot will be much simpler, with two choices for each office. The vast majority of the time there will be one Democrat versus one Republican, although the Top 2 allows the possibility that two members of a single party could make the finals. Since there are so many variations of thought within the two major parties, this is hardly a disaster and doesn’t mean there will be no choice in the general election.
The minor parties will lose out on the free publicity, primarily through the local and statewide voter’s pamphlets that list all the candidates for each office. But they stand no chance of winning anyway, so spare the voters the expense of providing a forum to every group that wants to spout off about their political views.
Serious minor parties will have to get to work and make a more concerted effort in the primary election. The Libertarian Party didn’t even field a candidate in this year’s Island County primary. That’s sad to see for a party that once made a real effort to be heard. They should reorganize and make an all-out primary effort next time around. The new Oak Harbor-based “American’s Third Party” candidate for State Senate, Sarah Hart, made very positive presentations at recent forums. It give the tiny party something to build on in the future.
Voters who attend political forums will be much better served by the results of the Top 2 Primary in the weeks before the general election. In the past, half a dozen candidates would get their say for a specific office, leaving little time for the two major party candidates to differentiate themselves. With only two candidates for each office, future forums, beginning this October, will be much less cluttered and far more informative for voters.
The state’s first Top 2 primary started with the mailing of ballots last week. Secretary of State Sam Reed reports that local auditors have reported few if any complaints to his office. That’s because voters like the freedom of choice provided by the new primary. So don’t forget to vote. Your ballots must be postmarked no later than election day, Aug. 19. You’ll see the surviving two candidates for each race in November.
The saga of a baby seal that became known as “Concho” underscores the importance of leaving the cute creatures alone if you find one on the beach.
Concho’s story started when a boater picked up the 5-day-old seal and later gave her to someone else. That person put Concho in her car, which was stopped by a Coupeville police officer for running a red light. Eventually the seal ended up in the care of Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic in Friday Harbor. She will be tube fed until she’s three weeks old and later released in the San Juans with a group of seals there.
Sadly, Concho will probably never be reunited with the mother that left her on the beach in Penn Cove. Even if the exact spot she was left was known it’s no doubt too late now, and besides, it would be too stressful to return the seal all the way from Friday Harbor. All we can do is hope that she adjusts well to her new life in the San Juans.
People should remember that it’s unlawful to pick up a baby seal from the beach. Their mothers leave them there while they go fishing and return later to pick them up. Violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act can result in a penalty of up to $10,000. If it’s considered a criminal matter, that increases to as much as $20,000 and up to a year in jail.
An investigator is trying to track down the person who interfered with Concho’s life by taking her from the beach. Hopefully he or she will be found and given a fine heavy enough to deter others from doing the same.