Eye On Olympia

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.




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