June 29, 2004

For immediate release


The Washington State Grange delivered an initial batch of approximately 230,000 signatures for its "People's Choice" initiative to the Secretary of State's office today.

The Grange will turn in approximately 40,000 additional signatures this week, which should guarantee the initiative a place on the November ballot.

"The time has come for the people to take back control of the primary election process," said Grange President Terry Hunt. "The government and the political parties have failed the voters every step of the way. So we're taking this issue straight to the people."

Initiative 872 will ensure that voters can vote for any candidate in any office in a primary election. The system will look similar to the blanket primary system that voters have enjoyed for 70 years.

This year, voters will have to choose a party ballot at the primary as a result of a system Governor Gary Locke signed into law, in spite of widespread public opposition. The Grange however, has obtained enough signatures to allow I-872 to advance to the general election ballot. If passed, the initiative will restore voter choice by allowing the two top vote-getters in a primary election to move forward, regardless of political party affiliation. Voters will not be required to select from among candidates of only one party, but rather, they will be allowed to vote for whichever candidate they feel is best for the position.

"Voters are going to be in for quite a shock this September when they go to vote in the primary election," said Hunt. "This only helps our cause on behalf of the people, because once they see how the new system infringes on their rights, they're going to turn right around and vote for the 'People's Choice' initiative in November. The people will have the final say over this issue - not the Governor, the political parties, or the courts."

Hunt explained that the top-two system put forth in I-872 will make the primary elections more competitive, particularly in safe districts.

"Candidates are no longer going to be guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot," said Hunt. "They're going to have to fight for it if they want it. This means that the political parties will need to back strong, qualified candidates who can get a lot of votes. This is a win-win situation for everyone, but especially for the voters of Washington State."


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