NEWS RELEASE

February 23, 2004

For immediate release

GRANGE APPEAL ON BLANKET PRIMARY STILL BEFORE SUPREME COURT

"The decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court only deals with the appeal by the Secretary of State," said Washington State Grange President Terry Hunt. "The Grange has a separate appeal which raises additional issues. The Supreme Court will decide on the Grange appeal sometime in the next few weeks."

The Grange expressed disappointment with today's U.S. Supreme Court decision not to review the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling that struck down Washington State's blanket primary.

"We feel that the appellate courts have overlooked significant differences between the primary statutes in California and those in Washington State," Hunt said. "But we're not unprepared.

"We've also been talking with legislators and letting them know that they don't have to give the political parties control over the primary in this state," Hunt said.

Hunt explained that the Legislature can adopt a "qualifying primary" in which the top-two candidates, regardless of party, move to the general election. Candidates for state office and the Legislature could still have their party preferences designated on the ballot. Voters would be able to vote for any candidate for each office, as they have for 70 years under the blanket primary.

"We believe this will hold up to any constitutional attacks the political parties try to hit us with through the courts," explained Hunt. "We're not about to turn over control of the election process to the parties. If the Legislature, for any reason, is unable to come to a consensus about changing the primary, we're prepared to move forward with our initiative."

The "People's Choice" Initiative (I-872) was filed by the Grange in January and would implement a top-two primary in which voters would not be required to declare party affiliation at any stage in the election process.

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For more information, contact David Burr, Communications Director, (360) 943-9911.