News Release                                              September 18, 2000

Consider the options as you vote in what could be this state's final blanket primary
For more information, contact Toni McKinley, Legislative Director (360-943-9911)

As you cast your ballot in the Washington State primary election Sept. 19, take
 a moment to think: Do I like this primary system? Do I really want to lose the
 freedom the blanket primary allows me as a voter to choose whichever candidate
 I feel is best suited to represent me?

Because of legal action taken by the Democratic Party in the State of
 California, the U.S. Supreme Court found the blanket primary system in that
 state to be unconstitutional, basically because it kept the political parties,
 which are considered private entities by the Court, from having direct control
 over who votes for leadership within that party. Now Attorney General Christine
 Gregoire has stated that, if the parties of Washington wish to file suit, it is
 her office's opinion that our own system would be considered unconstitutional.

The Washington State Grange, led by Charles Hodde, initiated the petition drive
 to establish the blanket primary system via Initiative 2 in Washington back in
 1935. The Grange felt then, as it does now, the freedom of choice in a
 political race belongs with the people, not with the leadership of any
 organization, political party or other. The Grange also continues to support
 the right of every citizen of this state to privacy, and continues to believe
 no voter should have to divulge his or her political party affiliation in order
 to cast a ballot in the primary.

The Secretary of State's Office has come up with a number of options to
 accommodate the recent Court decision. There will also be a number of public
 forums this week and next, held by the Secretary of State's Office, where the
 public can see the options outlined by that office and voice its opinion.

"We strongly urge everyone who can to attend these public hearings and voice
 their opinions on the blanket primary situation," said Hunt. "The Grange fought
 for the blanket primary back in the 30s because it is the system that best
 serves the people of Washington, and we will continue to work with the
 Secretary of State and the public to see to it the freedom to choose and the
 right to privacy stays with the people of Washington, as it has uninterrupted
 for 65 years."


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