OLYMPIA – An appellate court on Monday granted a fast-track review of a federal court decision striking down the popular “Top Two” primary system that state voters approved by initiative last fall.
The state Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties sued in May to challenge Initiative 872, which created a primary system in which the top two vote-getters for each office advanced to the general election, regardless of political affiliation.
U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly of Seattle ruled July 15 the state cannot allow voters to skip back and forth among parties as they pick a favorite candidate for each office. Nor can it allow candidates to identify themselves by party on a ballot without that party’s approval, Zilly wrote.
The effect of the ruling means the state returns to the “Montana-style” primary it used during last fall’s election.
When voters go to the polls Sept. 20, they will select one party’s ballot – blue for Democrats, red for Republicans – and vote for their favorite candidates on that ballot.
Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna, joined by the Washington State Grange, appealed last month to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Grange and state attorney general’s office must have their brief in to the court by Sept. 16, and the political parties must file by Oct. 17. The Grange and state will have until Oct. 24 to file their rebuttals, after which the court will set a date for oral arguments.
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