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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

WA Prez Primary: 35 percent turnout, Dem ballots topped GOP

OLYMPIA – The final official tally of Washington’s presidential primary: a record 1.42 million voters, or about 35 percent of those registered, cast ballots in a race where the Republican nomination was settled and the Democratic nomination wouldn’t be affected.

That's a record for a presidential primary in Washington, state elections officials said Friday in announcing the results.

“Obviously many of our voters did not consider this a meaningless election and were happy to have their voices heard,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a press release.

Of course, a critic might also point out that many more -- like almost two-thirds -- did not consider it meaningful enough to mark a ballot and publicly state which party they consider themselves to be a member of. Or complain that if the election winds up costing the estimated $11.5 million, that's about $8 per ballot.

Wyman said next year's Legislature should amend state law to move the primary date from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March. She previously tried to get lawmakers to move the 2016 primary, but that bill didn't pass. She also tried to get a special commission to move the date, but Democrats on that panel wouldn't support the move, saying the state should cancel the primary and save the money.

Presumptive nominee Donald Trump got more than 75 percent of the Republican votes cast. Hillary Clinton got 52.4 percent of the Democratic votes to Bernie Sanders’ 47.6 percent. About 800,00 ballots were cast for Democrats and about 600,000 for Republicans.

All Washington delegates to the Republican National Convention will vote for Trump, who became the only GOP candidate still in the race the week the ballots came in the mail. Democrats are using the caucuses to award delegates and ignoring the primary results. Sanders swamped Clinton in the caucuses.

Turnout in Spokane County was slightly better, at almost 37 percent, or 108,793. Trump got 73 percent of the Spokane Republican vote, and Sanders came out on top in the Democratic contest, with 50.4 percent to Clinton’s 49 percent.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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