Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remind me why I need to pick-a-party

In today's Tacoma News Tribune, Peter Callaghan notes in 2006 the parties have not given us much to choose from and spoilage rates on ballots are extremely high. Voters are either confused by the pick-a-party system or do not like it and are registering their protest. Spoilage rates are between 10 and 20% around the state. Mostly due to voters failing to mark their party preference.

The state of Washington needs to replace the pick-a-party system. Pierce County voters can go a long ways towards replacing the much despised pick-a-party system by supporting Amendment #3 in November. Amendment #3 would replace the pick-a-party system with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for county level officials. Where IRV is used the spoilage rates are less than 1% and voter surveys show that voters like IRV over 4 to 1.

Pierce County can take a leadership position in the state by voting Yes on Amendment #3 in November. If Pierce County passes Amendment #3, then the state will have an alternative to consider for our election system.

For more information on Amendment #3, see

Given no choice, ballot is empty

Snohomish County opinion
Letters to the editor in Seattle Times

Vote cancellation
Given no choice, ballot is empty

Editor, The Times:

I got my primary ballot in the mail in Snohomish County [recently]. After reading it, I realized I've effectively been disenfranchised for a second year. The ballot clearly states that I cannot favor a person of one party in one race, and a person of another party in another unrelated race or my vote will not be counted.

I select my candidates based on the person I think will do the best job, so there is no way I can vote. I will not be forced to cast votes for people in whom I have no faith and whom I do not support. This makes me very sad. Last year, when this law came into effect, marked the first election in which I had not cast a ballot since I became old enough to vote in 1962.

I consider voting a civic responsibility, but will not allow someone else to tell me for whom I must vote. As long as this new rule remains in effect, I remain disenfranchised.

— Carolyn Grismore, Everett

Ballot went to shredder

This letter to the editor appeared in the Columbian on Sunday, September 17, 2006.

After reading Tom Koenninger's Sept. 13 opinion column, "Bring back the blanket primary," I had to respond.

The response goes to those who decided to set this primary up, and that response is "who do you think you are?" As soon as I got the ballot and saw that I had to choose a political party in order to cast my vote, I reread everything again to make sure I understood. I then took my ballot to my shredder.

As an American and a military veteran I have earned the right to vote, and you have taken that right away by forcing me, and everyone, to declare a political party in order to cast a vote in a primary election. Is the next step our local, state, and national elections?

To all of those in the Republican and Democratic parties, and to those in the judicial system who supported this concept, shame on you! Is this your idea of free elections as guaranteed by the Constitution and our freedoms?

I did vote, and my shredder has the results. Thanks for excluding me, and many others.

Bob Brown
Hazel Dell

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blame the political parties, not county auditors, for lack of choice

Published in Tacoma News Tribune: September 16th, 2006

I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding on the part of voters. I have been listening to the news reports and to people in public discussing the pick-a-party primary, and what I hear is idiocy.

People are blaming the county auditors for having to choose a party to have their vote count in the primary election. Do these people not read the newspaper or listen to the news stories? It was not the county auditors who made the decision that we can no longer vote for whomever we choose. It was the political parties. Yet the auditors are being reviled by the public.

Those writing nasty letters to the beleaguered auditors and their election staffs need to stop and think. They should address their concerns to the leaders of the major state political parties and to the Legislature. The Republican and Democratic parties’ leadership sued the state to change our primary election.

I also prefer to vote for whomever I choose and am frustrated that I can no longer do so. However, I don’t blame my county auditor. She is required to follow the law.

Friday, September 15, 2006

State should get out of primary business

Published: Tacoma News Tribune, September 15th, 2006 01:00 AM

It may be that the rules for the Washington primary election have changed (TNT, 9-13), and the blanket primary is a thing of the past. But I will be one of those with a ballot that does not indicate my party preference.

It is not only my right, but my duty to cast my ballot for the candidate I believe best qualified for each position. It may be a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. If the blanket primary has been ruled unconstitutional, I support a third option: Eliminate the primary completely. The nonpartisan elections and ballot measures can be moved to the November ballot. In this way, perhaps our partisan parties can select the candidate they believe is best suited for the job.

This seems a preferable alternative to holding a party-specific popularity contest (on the taxpayers’ dime) to find out which politician voters would prefer.

Blame the parties for messed-up primary

This letter to the editor appeared in the Olympian on September 15, 2006.

Here we are in the middle of an election. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have their candidates.

Does it make any difference what party you are affiliated with? The people of our state want the most qualified person representing them in the Legislature or an any elected government position. We don't want mudslinging or things out of the past 10-20 or more years ago.

We want people who understand the problems and truly represent the people, not a political party or special interest group or lobbyists. We Washingtonians pride ourselves on our independence. Vote for the most qualified person, not the party.

Also, thanks to the Democrats and Republicans, we are limited in the primary to voting either all Democrat ticket or all Republican ticket or for nonpartisan races only. But why do the taxpayers have to "foot the bill" for this when it is the two major parties that wanted this change. What good is it that the major parties hold state conventions. Isn't that where they should pick their candidates to run? We the people then will decide who will represent us.

Vote for the person, not the party affiliation.

Don Beatty, Olympia

Voters Shouldn't have to subsidize the process

Letter to the editor of Seattle Post-Intelligencer on September 15, 2006

With the blanket pulled from our primary, why should taxpayers (and non-partisan voters) continue to subsidize the nominating processes of the two largest political parties with this new pick-a-party process?

Given the understandable and legal need for parties to have control over candidates using their name and running on their label, why not just toss the partisan aspect of the primary altogether and force true-believing party members to hold meaningful open-membership nominating conventions on their own dime and time?

Independent voters shouldn't have to pay for that. Primary ballots would be the same for all voters as only non-partisan candidates and issues need appear. Party conventions would take care of party candidates. No more silly, faux declarations of party membership in order to cast a ballot for a candidate of choice.

Unlike parliamentarians, Washingtonians have never been keen on declaring party membership. We tend to vote for the individual. It's party officials who like (and sued for) the current structure in our primaries, not the average voter. No more partisan bullet voting in Washington primaries. Primary elections should be kept independent of party demands and focused on the needs of the voter.

Laurence Ballard, Seattle

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Partisan Ballots: Not Voting

This letter to the editor was published in the Tri-City Herald on September 14, 2006.

For several days now we have been seeing all these letters promoting this candidate or the other, and I think it is a total waste of time and effort. The political parties of this state have seen fit to take our rights to vote for the candidate we want away from us. You do not have that right anymore; you must select the party whether they have the candidates of your choice or not.
We prefer not to vote that way; we will vote for the nonpartisan offices instead.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bring back the blanket primary

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
TOM KOENNINGER editor emeritus of The Columbian

I think I voted in the Sept. 19th primary election, but I'm not sure. Maybe I was dreaming. If so, it was a nightmare.

There was this white envelope, and the green-edged envelope and the yellow envelope.

There were warnings, and admonitions.

If I was found guilty of crossover voting casting a mark for a Republican when I declared I was a Democrat my ballot for Republicans would not count. The same thing would happen the other way around.

This whole process was dull, dreadfully dull. Watching paint dry comes to mind.

Perhaps I violated the law. Nights are sleepless and tense: Did I accidentally cross the line and mark a vote for a Republican? Or was I a self-declared Republican caught supporting a Democrat?

I think of myself as a middle-of-the-road guy. A Republi-crat. Or a Demo-can. I like to believe I have voted for the best person. Crossover voting is allowed Nov. 7 in the general election, but not in the primary. Maybe I should skip the primary.

Perhaps I'll go to jail, and someone will ask, "What are you in for, Mac?" And I'll have to say, "Crossover voting." I also shared my voting preferences with my wife. Maybe that will add time in the slammer. It's not the jail time, it's the embarrassment. I didn't follow directions.

If this is an experience in democracy, God save the queen.

I loved the blanket primary. It was easy to understand and comforting. But the political parties took it away two years ago. They claimed the blanket primary prevented each party from choosing its own candidates, and blocked free association. They accused voters of setting up victory in the opposition party by picking weaker candidates in the primary. The courts bought into party whimpering and declared the blanket unconstitutional.

It was gone for the first time in 70 years. Voters were angry. "People were saying, 'we want to vote for the person, not the party. This system takes away my rights and is undemocratic,'" said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed told the Associated Press that voters made it clear they were "mad as hell" because they could not vote for their favorite candidate.

Public's preference overruled

In the Nov. 2, 2004, general election, voters supported I-872, a measure that would pick the "top two" vote winners in the election, moving it back to the open primary. Sixty percent of the state's voters endorsed it, but it was shot down again in the courts, thanks to the Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians.

That led us to the "pick-a-party" ballot for the current primary.
It's possible, but not likely, that political parties could eliminate the primary over time, replacing it with a nominating convention. Two years ago Chris Vance, then Washington State Republican Party chairman, said his party adopted a rule requiring selection of party nominees by election, if it can't pick them in a party primary.

Some say there's "no way" we can return to the blanket primary. Should we forget the blanket?

No. Let's not quit. The Washington State Grange teamed with the AFL-CIO in 1934 to launch the successful blanket primary initiative.

The grange, the union and the League of Women Voters would do this state a great service by taking up the primary ballot issue again. Right now, it's not voter-friendly.

Many people want to be able to make their own choices on the ballot, and not have them made by political parties.

We have come from machines and punch-card ballots to the kitchen table in the 21st century, marking our ballots with an ink pen black or blue, no exceptions. Most of us own, or have access to, computers. Why can't we use them as voting instruments?

Do we really live in an electronic age?

Even worse is the restriction on our freedoms. We fight, and die, for freedom of expression in all forms, and yet lose the freedom of choice in the primary election.

That is NOT progress.

Tom Koenninger is editor emeritus of The Columbian. His column of personal opinion appears on the Other Opinions page each Wednesday. Reach him at

Primary election: Won't Vote

This letter to the editor was published in the Tri-City Herald on September 13, 2006.

For the first time in many years as a registered voter, I will not be voting in a primary election.

The reason for this is because the powers that be, at that time, decided that the voters of this state could not vote for the candidate of their choice because this was considered by them to be unconstitutional.

What is unconstitutional about voting for the candidate that the voter feels is best qualified to protect the interest of Washington state, its citizens and their welfare?

What is unconstitutional is that we have had that choice taken away from us by legal "experts" who think they know what is right and what is wrong.
We need to take action to take back control of our voting choices.

WILMA K. BENZ, Benton City

It's un-American

This letter to the editor appeared in the Yakima Herald Republic on September 13, 2006.

To the editor — My hat is off to Walt Ranta of Yakima (Letters, Sept. 7), who can't abide the primary rule.

I voted for the nonpartisan positions only. If it is unconstitutional to vote for the candidate who is best qualified for the position, then the Constitution should be changed. To tell me who I can and can't vote for is not a democracy and it's not American.


Don't tell him what to do

This letter to the editor appeared in the Yakima Herald Republic on September 13, 2006.

To the editor — I guess my choice is not to vote in the primary election. I can't vote for the people I think are the most qualified. I was under the understanding that our forefathers approved a citizen government elected by the majority of citizens. Now, because of the Democratic and Republican parties, I can only vote party lines in the primary. My choice is to vote the way you want me to vote or don't vote at all?

I will not be told what to do!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary election strips voters of their rights

This letter to the editor appeared in the Olympian on September 12, 2006.

The right to vote is the heart of our Constitution. How can we be denied the right to choose those who govern us?

The Preamble states in part, "We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union ..."

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ends with "... and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 2, House of Representatives, how and by whom chosen, etc., states implicitly, "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states."

The people are the citizens, not some political party.

To say that the people cannot vote for the candidates of their choice in the primary election is a clear violation of the Constitution. The primary election is, by definition, part of the election process.

Many political parties have come and gone; The Anti-Masonic, Free Soil, Socialist, Liberty, Greenback, Peoples, Progressive, Union, Reform, Prohibition and the American - also called The Know Nothing Party.

Since I cannot vote for my candidates in the primary election, I will not vote.

I will vote in the general election.

Cameron Carlson, Lacey

Monday, September 11, 2006

Let parties pay for closed primary

This letter to the editor appeared in the Olympian on September 11, 2006.

The Olympian's Aug. 29 editorial regarding the election primary system accurately reflects the frustrations of many moderate voters who don't really have a party that accurately represents them.

As an alternative, let's look at a system whereby the state funds only open primaries, and the political parties fund any closed primaries or caucuses.
The parties could then select the option of an open primary or a closed one, preserving their rights as set forth in the court decision to choose their candidates as they see fit.

Such a method would provide independent voters a clear idea of which party or parties truly wish to represent them.

Bobby Johnson, Olympia

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Something lacking in primary

This letter to the editor appeared in the Yakima Herald Republic on September 10, 2006.

To the editor — I feel Bill Vivatson (Letters, Sept. 4) said it like it is, "Iraqis have more choice in voting than we do."

To this I want to add a note to nine Republican candidates I would have voted for if I had not been forced to declare myself a Democrat so I could vote for Sen. Maria Cantwell, whom I admire highly.

I cannot believe that I cannot vote for the person I feel is the best person for the job.

I voted and mailed in my ballots on Sept. 5.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Elections aren't free

This letter to the editor appeared in the Spokesman Review on September 9, 2006.

What a stupid and wasteful plan - mailing everyone three ballots (at least they are all in English) and having everyone throw away two! Who decided on this one-party primary?

I never have and will not vote along party lines! And, I'm quite sure there are many more voters who feel the same way. Communist countries do the same thing – they put one or two names on the ballots and call it a "free" election. A free election would be to let people choose who they want to vote for, in any party!

I have voted in every election in this state since I was old enough to vote (except for in the 12 years I lived in Alaska) and have been able to vote for the person of my choice, no matter what party they were in!

Now, Washington State (and too many other states) has taken away another freedom. I hate this and will work to change it. Our "party" legislators do not have the right to take away this freedom. Let's get it back!

G. Scott Hendricks, Spokane

Ballot choice is wrong

This letter to the editor appeared in the Spokesman Review on September 9, 2006.

As I said last year about this time, I'm not able to have a ballot counted as I will not vote a straight ticket. It is not right that we be forced to vote for choices that are not necessarily what we believe to be the correct ones.

The "party" is worthless; it is the individual that votes on bills and sponsors legislation. Too much time is wasted on "party" bickering, not enough time spent on things the people who sent them there want to know about.

Harvey MacQuarrie, Cheney

Friday, September 08, 2006

Consolidated ballots: Confusing to voters

This letter to the editor was published in the Tri-City Herald on September 8, 2006.

Is Benton County trying to outdo Florida in creating confusing ballots?

It has taken me some effort to figure out my Primary Election ballot, newly arrived by mail.

First you have to determine which side is page one. Next you have to discover where the Republican list ends and the nonpartisan list begins. If you get either step wrong, you could void your ballot.

It will be interesting to see how many spoiled ballots result.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dump the Voting System

This letter to the editor appeared in the Spokesman Review on September 7, 2006.

Whoa! I got voting ballots in the mail today and find out that we can only vote for one party now. This does not appear to be a description of voter's rights or democracy to me! Whose idea is this? The politicians? Management for those who don't understand our system?

It seems it came into existence after the Bush/Kerry situation.

Voter's rights mean the ability to vote for any person(s) that a voter wishes, whether they are Republican, Democrat or nonpartisan.

To vote for a person who is Democrat and another person who is Republican can no longer be done!

An idea came to just write the other party's name in the write in space but then read the directions and it said the ballet would be thrown out if we did this.

What other rights must we suffer losing? If we don't fight this type voting system, we are going to be in a party dictatorship very soon.

Bobbie Wyatt, Washtunca, Wash.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's past time to get rid of the government's party system

This letter to the editor appeared in the Olympian on September 6, 2006.

Having received my new voters pamphlet, I am again reminded of how unfair our new primary system of voting is, and how unwise the individuals who drafted the new method were to arrive at this system. I have said this before and will say it again: "It is long past the time for America to do away with our party system of government."

Why should it be unconstitutional to cross vote for the best man for the job or office, regardless of party affiliation?

When the courts ruled that doing so was unconstitutional, the courts were not and could not have been reading the same Constitution that our forefathers designed, wrote and signed into law governing our nation. I find no reference to the citizens having to choose to vote along any particular party lines. Requiring them to do so should be declared unconstitutional.

I personally have a dilemma. I want to vote for Kevin O'Sullivan, a Republican, and also vote for Dan Kimball, a Democrat. The courts, by their rulings, are forcing me to prioritize my feelings between these two very worthwhile candidates.

By forcing me to vote for only one of them during the primary, I just might have been the necessary vote for the other one to make the general election.

This is so wrong, it stinks to high heaven. There is more I would love to say, but space is limited.

Dan Beedle, Olympia

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why Do You Dislike the Pick-A-Party Primary?

There are many reasons why voters dislike the pick-a-party primary. Some we have already heard include:

1) I don't like all of the ballots coming in the mail.
2) I don't like picking just one ballot during the primary.
3) I vote for the person, not the party.
4) I want to vote for any candidate, any party.
5) I am an independent.

We want to know why you dislike the pick-a-party primary. Please comment by clicking on the word Comment below.