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News >  WA Government

Inslee signs bill moving up presidential primary and forcing voters to declare parties

UPDATED: Fri., March 15, 2019

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee, flanked by current and former state elections officials and legislators, signs the state’s new presidential primary law Thursday. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee, flanked by current and former state elections officials and legislators, signs the state’s new presidential primary law Thursday. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Washington voters could get a chance to weigh in much earlier on the presidential selection process next year.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who hopes to be in the running for president when that primary rolls around, signed a new law that shifts the election date from late May to the second Tuesday in March. It also will require voters to indicate whether they consider themselves Democrats or Republicans for their votes to be counted.

Although independent voters will not be able to cast a vote, Inslee said the earlier primary, which both parties could use to help select their nominees, makes sense.

The law does not require either party to use the results, and the Washington Democratic Party is surveying its members on whether they think the party should use the primary results, or stick with its traditional precinct caucus process. They’ll make a decision in early April.

While he supports the primary, Inslee said he has not weighed in on the state party’s process to select a method of awarding delegates in 2020. Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who sponsored the primary legislation, said he would propose canceling the primary in 2020 if Democrats stick with the caucus system and President Donald Trump is running for re-election, to save the state the $12 million cost of the primary.

Asked if he’d support such a move to save the money, Inslee replied: “I have not thought through that.”

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