NEWS RELEASE                                                    May 17, 2001

House "open primary" destroys blanket primary, excludes independent voters

"The open primary bill passed by the House of Representatives May 15 is a fraud
 on the voters of our state," stated Terry Hunt, Master of the Washington State
 Grange.

"It is an insult to refer to this bill as an 'open primary.' The political
 parties will close the door on all the independent voters in the state,"
 continued Hunt.

Polls show that nearly three-quarters of the voters in the primary do not vote a
 straight party ticket. Under the bill passed by the House, votes of
 unaffiliated voters at the primary will not be counted in determining which
 candidates appear on the general election ballot unless the major parties all
 adopt rules to include them. All three major parties have publicly stated that,
 under such a system, they would not count unaffiliated votes.

"The major parties will certainly freeze independents out of the primary, if the
 Legislature gives them this kind of power," Hunt said.

Hunt pointed out that the House bill is so restrictive that, if a voter chooses
 an unaffiliated ballot rather than a major party ballot at the primary, that
 voter's votes would be excluded, even if he or she voted entirely for
 candidates of one party.

"I am pleased that the State Senate refused to agree to the House amendments to
 this bill," Hunt noted. "I hope they continue to hold their ground."



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