September 15, 2004
For immediate release
I-872 Popularity Surges in Wake of Restrictive Primary
The Washington State Grange announced in a Sept. 15 press conference with Secretary of State Sam Reed that it fully expects the people to pass Initiative Measure 872 (dubbed the "People's Choice" initiative) into law at the November general election.
The Grange noted that, while turnout was not as low as expected, 79 percent of those surveyed in exit polling by Stuart Elway during the Sept. 14 primary indicated that they opposed the new primary system, which forces citizens to vote a straight party ticket. In addition, Grange Elections Specialist Don Whiting did note that turnout appeared to have decreased by approximately 30 percent from what one would normally expect during a presidential election year.
"That means, in effect, that about 350,000 voters in the state of Washington who would normally vote in a primary of this type didn't show up," said Whiting. "And we suspect that they didn't show up because they didn't like the format." Whiting also indicated that third parties were actually hurt under this primary process.
"The third parties – the Libertarians in this case – have been severely disadvantaged by this form of primary," he said. "At this point – based on the unofficial returns – they do not have a candidate for U.S. Senate, and they do not have a candidate for the governorship. And most of their other candidates for statewide offices are holding on by a thread.
"But behind all of this," Whiting continued, "is the very simple fact that voters – when they went to the polls or opened their absentee ballots to vote – found out that, in many cases, they could not vote for all the candidates they wanted to. Initiative 872 solves exactly that problem. It gives back to voters in this state the right to vote for whatever candidates they want to in the primary."
Reed also addressed the media during the press conference, echoing many of Whiting's sentiments and expressing his personal support of the initiative.
"What is interesting in terms of the passion of the response that all of us have heard throughout the last month," said Reed, "is that there was a sense of an encroachment upon the freedom of the individual to choose whoever she or he wanted to vote for. That is what Initiative 872 solves. I commend the Washington State Grange for their effort. They're out there championing this cause for the people of the state of Washington.
"Initiative 872 would return us to a primary system where you can vote for the person, not the party," continued Reed. "I'm here today on my own time as private citizen Sam Reed to express my support for Initiative 872. I believe this is best for the people of the state of Washington. It fits the political heritage of the state of Washington. It fits Washington voters. And I am quite confident – given the response of the voters that we heard throughout the state of Washington – that this is going to be passed overwhelmingly on November 2nd."
Finally, Grange President Terry Hunt expressed to reporters his gratitude for being able to side with Washington State voters.
"We are proud to be able to bring this to the people so they can have the choice," said Hunt. "I want to thank Sam for his encouragement and his work with us today."
For more information, contact David Burr, Communications Director, (360) 943-9911.