Washington Secretary of State boycotting presidential primary because of privacy concerns

SPOKANE, Wash. — This year in Washington, your vote in the presidential primary will matter more than ever before — but there’s a catch.

When lawmakers signed Senate Bill 5273 into law last year, they signed off on moving the state’s presidential primary up a month and a half, from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second week of March. This year’s primary in Washington is set for a week after Super Tuesday.

“Now that we’re holding the election earlier… our votes really matter,” said Spokane County auditor Vicky Dalton. “The state of Washington is going to be in the decision-making process instead of just an afterthought.”

Now that SB 5273 has been signed into law, voters will be required to mark their party affiliation on the outside of their ballot envelope in presidential primaries.

“Whatever is on your ballot is always secret. It’s what’s on the envelope that will become public,” said Dalton. “What you cannot do is you cannot choose the red column and mark a blue oath and you cannot mark a blue column and mark a red oath. In that case, your votes will not be counted.”

Party affiliations will be public record for 60 days. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said that’s why she won’t be voting in this year’s primary.

“I think I’m going to be boycotting it this year myself and ruin my perfect voting record,” she said in an interview with KOMO. “Like me, you either have to not participate or you participate and then everyone knows what your party affiliation is and our voters don’t like that.”

“I guarantee you, the county election offices and my office — the phones will light up because people will get very angry about this election,” she added.

Dalton told 4 News Now she’s gotten the hint.

“Our phones have already lit up and my voice message box has already been very, very active — sometimes with a little bit of colorful language. Please remember we are the administrators, we don’t come up with the rules,” she said. “If you don’t want to declare a party, then don’t participate. Now, for an elections official, that’s painful for me to say.”

All presidential primary ballots must be turned in or postmarked by 8 p.m. March 10th.