For Immediate Release                                           April 25, 2002

POLITICAL PARTIES WRONG TO APPEAL BLANKET PRIMARY DECISION

The Washington State Grange condemned the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian
 parties' decision to appeal the March 27 ruling of Federal District Court Judge
 Franklin D. Burgess that upheld Washington's popular blanket primary.

"We don't understand why the parties insist on pursuing this unpopular and
 futile effort to change our primary system," said State Grange President Terry
 Hunt, "The people of the state want the right to choose their own candidates."

The political parties appealed Judge Burgess' decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit
 Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

State Grange attorney Jim Johnson said, "We are confident of a win in this
 appeal. With this defeat, it will be 'three strikes and you're out' for the
 political parties."

The blanket primary withstood two previous challenges in the Washington state
 Supreme Court, one in 1936 and the other in 1980. The Washington State Grange
 wrote the original blanket primary initiative in 1934 and it was adopted by the
 State Legislature the following year.

Attorneys representing the Washington Secretary of State and the Grange argued
 in favor of the constitutionality of the blanket primary in federal district
 court last month. The Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian parties sought to
 overturn Washington's primary election system after a U.S. Supreme Court
 decision in 2000 found California's blanket primary unconstitutional.

As the Grange pointed out in federal district court, California's "open" primary
 differed from Washington's blanket primary because Washington does not require
 voters to register by party affiliation. Judge Burgess agreed with the Grange,
 ruling that the political parties failed to prove any injury to their right of
 association.

Eliminating the blanket primary would likely cause a fall in voter turnout.
 California's primary election turnout dropped to its lowest level in history
 when its open blanket primary was replaced with a closed, party-based system
 last year.

"Washington must preserve the rights of its citizens to vote for any candidate
 in the primary. We can be a model for other states who want to give primary
 elections back to the people," said Hunt.

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