Arrow-right Camera

Eye On Olympia

Wed., April 16, 2008, 6:23 p.m.

What can you say in 16 characters? Primary voters are about to find out…

From tomorrow's paper:

Heads up, voters: You're ballot might look a little strange this August.

Secretary of State Sam Reed on Wednesday proposed rules for the state's first-ever Top Two primary. In a move designed to avoid another court challenge by political parties, the new rules allow candidates to indicate a "preferred party."

But under the proposed rules, a candidate is free to write virtually anything he wishes in the space between "prefers" and "party." The only limits: it can only total 16 characters and can't be obscene.

"People can describe themselves however they wish," said Trova Heffernan, a spokeswoman for Reed. "It's their First Amendment right."
In between "prefers" and "party," candidates could write "NO NEW TAXES," for example, or "ANTI WAR DEM" or even a short commercial pitch ("A GOOD BUDWEISER") on the ballot.

Farfetched? Perhaps. But Washington's ballot is no stranger to theatrics. A man named Mike the Mover has run for more than a dozen offices over two decades, largely as cheap advertising. And Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson has also run repeatedly on a platform that includes interplanetary colonization. In 2004, the two ran against each other in the gubernatorial primary.

The state's major political parties find nothing funny about the change.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Eye On Olympia

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.