SEATTLE — Washington state’s Primary Election is right around the corner on Aug. 2, and Washington is a top-two primary state. So, what does that mean?
The top-two primary allows voters to choose among all candidates running for each office, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office. The two candidates who receive the most votes during the Primary Election will move on to the General Election, sometimes resulting in two candidates from the same party facing off.
Candidates have the choice to state political party preference, though that does not mean the candidate has been endorsed by a party. Voters are also not required to declare a party affiliation to vote in the primary.
The top-two primary does not apply to elections for president and vice president, nonpartisan offices such as judges, municipal, or in districts such as fire districts and school districts, or precinct community officers.
The top-two primary was made into law by voters in 2004 as an initiative. I-872 passed with nearly 60% of the vote. The system was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008 and used during the 2008 primary. It has been in effect for all partisan elections since 2008.
Several reasons for the top-two primary system include simplifying the General Election ballot, preventing spoiler candidates and increasing the power of the voters.
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