June 2, 2004

For immediate release


The Washington State Grange unleashed the second wave of its statewide radio advertising campaign this week encouraging voters to sign People's Choice Initiative 872 petitions by the end of the June.

The ad places the responsibility for the current primary election situation squarely at the feet of the Governor, suggesting that his actions will exclude voters who prefer to vote for the person rather than the party from the primary entirely.

"We want people to be aware that their voting rights have been taken away by the Governor's actions," said Grange President Terry Hunt.

Governor Locke's veto of the top-two section of Engrossed Senate Bill 6453 -- which would have enacted a qualifying primary according to the bill's restrictive title -- left Washington voters with a Montana-style primary system which requires voters to select a party ballot at the primary.

"If it takes a strong statement like this to get the attention of the electorate and inform people about what the Governor did to their freedoms, so be it," continued Hunt. "The bottom line is that voters are going to have to vote a straight party ticket because of his actions. This is the reality."

I-872 will protect voter choice by implementing a qualifying primary system in which the two top vote-getters move forward to the general election, regardless of party. Hunt explained that the system will look very similar to the blanket primary system the Grange introduced in 1934. A blanket primary was recently declared unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The qualifying primary, however, meets the constitutional criteria set forth by the courts.

"We're simply stating the facts," said Hunt. "Legislators acted responsibly in passing a top-two system that was representative of the will of their constituents. The Governor, on the other hand, sided with the political parties, not the people."

The ad will be heard on a number of talk and news radio stations in the Puget Sound region for the next two weeks, and the campaign will extend to Eastern Washington next week.

"We need to collect 250,000 signatures by the end of June so the people can vote on this in the November election," said Terry Hunt, president of the Washington State Grange. "The people should have the final say on this issue, and that's why we're trying to get the word out."

Attached is an MP3 sound clip of the commercial that is currently running on local AM and FM radio.


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