Guest Editorial: Washington's $11.5 Million Election Boondoggle


In future, keep your primary and get rid of your undemocratic caucus.
You two think we should use taxpayer $$ to build up political parties fundriasing lists? Nomination process is important but, local races and community based civic engagement is WAY more important. I support Tina and her innovative ideas!
In the current state of things, paying that money for the primary just isn't worth it. An old coworker of mine (definitely a smart guy) just said he voted and he sounded a little crushed when I told him that his vote in the primary didn't matter if he was voting on the Democratic side since the Democrats held their first couple of rounds of caucuses already.

When only one party is using the primary, it doesn't make sense for us to be paying for it. I would prefer that we simply move to a primary system, but until then, why are we paying for Republicans to select their nominee?
Is there a legal basis to throw out the caucus system and move to a statewide primary? Cuz that's the most democratic thing to do. Absent that, if Republicans want a primary, they should pay for it. Democrats have no business holding a primary that is meaningless.

Caucuses by definition are not designed to be open; they're run by the respective party organizations and they set the rules for who can participate. People who are new to politics undoubtedly find this confusing, but this is how caucuses have been run since they were first implemented by national political parties in the 1790's.

Now, one can argue the general merits of the caucus system, but as long as political parties exist they will exercise control over how the candidates that will represent that particular Party Organization are selected, just like any other membership-driven group does.
We all know that Republicans don't actually care about saving taxpayer money, and that they're actively against encouraging voters to turn out.

The only way to end the caucus system is for a State Party Organization to vote to discontinue it; to date, neither has done so, although the WA GOP did decide to allocate delegates to the State Nominating Convention using both caucus and primary election results. Given all the reported problems at WA Democratic caucuses this cycle, it's entirely possible the WA State Democratic Party Central Committee could elect to do so prior to the 2020 presidential elections. But, it's totally up to them.
Caucuses belong in the 1790s. They're an anachronism today.
I'm a Bernie supporter who wants to end the Caucus Shit show!
*Who* is complaining that a 47-cent stamp is a "poll tax"? Name three.
I suspect that voter participation in the mail-in primary is higher than the turnout for caucuses.
@11 I'm complaining, why the fuck should I need to use a stamp to mail my ballot back to the state. Even Netflix is able to handle that.

I do think you're right that mail-in participation is higher than in a caucus (don't tell Bernie that primaries involve more people than a caucus). But I would suggest that the biggest obstacle to people voting is the fact that elections (outside of WA at least) are on Tuesdays.
At least it was one more chance to vote against Hillary Clinton, so not a total loss.
I agree. Let's get rid of this unnecessary primary. As someone who is voting for the first time this election cycle I'm surprised and disappointed to learn the ways Washington State is failing in its voting systems.
@12 you think this state, which can't properly fund education, has as much money as netflix?
Government's broken because the Republicans broke it.

They waste money on meaningless Primary elections, then say we cannot afford postage-paid return envelops for General elections.

They under-fund the TSA, then say we need to privatize airport security because the lines are too long.

They fund a bloated military but don't fund the Veterans Administration, then they outsource treatment of wounded vets because the VA isn't up to the task.

They under-fund public schools, convince parents that those same public schools suck, then divert public funds into charter schools.

They're brilliant. Evil, but brilliant.

In that case I would highly recommend you get actively involved with your Legislative District Party Organization, possibly even become a Precinct Committee Officer - the base-tier for elected Party officials - if there isn't already one for your particular precinct. That's how shit gets done in political parties; by citizens who register as a member of the Party, show up to meetings, do the work, and vote on policy.


If paying $0.47 is too onerous on you for participating in the democratic process, you are always free to drop off your ballot at a collection site; they're available at most libraries, post offices, and other locations. If THAT is too much of a burden for you, then just throw the damn thing in the mail anyway; the presiding county elections department will pay the postage-due, no questions asked.
@16 Yep.
Tina's right to question and criticize Wyman's lack of follow-through in cancelling next week's Presidential Preference Primary.

With only one Republican left in the race and given that the state Democrats use the caucus system and its results to choose their nominee, this 2016 primary is indeed a monumental waste of tax-payer funds.

Washington adopted and held its first Presidential Preference Primary in 1992, following Pat Robertson's overthrow of the state Republican Party during the 1988 Republican presidential caucus. (For the state Democratic Party, Jesse Jackson won the state's presidential caucus in 1988.) Washington's Democratic Party survived the polarizing '88 election process. The state Republican Party however, lobbied for a primary system in order to avoid future coups d'├ętat.

There is precedence for cancelling this primary when its purpose is meaningless and costly. Since 1992, two of Washington's presidential primaries have been cancelled - 2004 and again in 2012.

Secretary Wyman dropped the ball on this one, and we the people are left footing the $11.5 million boondoggle bill.

Tina's also right in that we could have used $11.5 million to fund tools to increase voter participation - tools like postage-free ballots and permanent ballot drop boxes across the state.

With creative approaches like this and with a keen focus on increasing participation in the electoral process, Washington would be well served with Podlodowski at the helm in the Secretary of State's Office. Tina has my vote.
Keep doubling down on your gaffe, Podlodowski.

When you fall in a sinkhole, keep digging!
cgd@1 - Ideally yes, but if the parties are going to just ignore the presidential primary it's a waste of money to conduct it.
Absolutely not. It is not a waste of money in the slightest. You do not dismantle the democratic process for this one-off circumstance of a foregone conclusion; as that could negate chances for a candidate in future elections.
What I didn't like about that primary vote was having to put my party preference on the outside of the envelope! No voting in Washington State has ever required that before, as far as I can recall. Bring on TINA!
WA voters have a crappy vote-by-mail deal. I moved to California a couple of years ago; I can vote by mail here, or go to a polling station. Freedoms! But you know what? I don't have to pay for a stamp. My ballot paper is totally free to mail back.
It also violates the State Constitution which states:
"All persons of the age of eighteen years or over who are citizens of the United States and who have lived in the state, county, and precinct thirty days immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote, except those disqualified by Article VI, section 3 of this Constitution, shall be entitled to vote at all elections."

All voters are not entitled to vote in this election
I think this is a great idea. It saves money; and the democratic values and process have been fulfilled through the existing system in place. Good luck Tina! We need more leaders like you in office!
@25: this primary battle is a private party function (for both Democrats and Republicans) about selecting who the nominee is. The election is in November, to which your quote applies.
@27, It's not a private party function, it's a publicly funded and operated election which the parties may choose or not choose to use to assign delegates.

The Constitution doesn't just say general elections, or only elections for candidates. It says all elections.
The Secretary of State has no power to move the date of the primary up. Besides, Democrats in the legislature blocked Wyman's recommendation to move the primary.

Also, the party affiliation thing is non-binding. It is still an open primary. You can change your affiliation at any time and qualify to participate in the primary. I suspect other states do it this way as well. It is not exclusionary to ask that voters in a *primary* declare themselves to be members of the party for as long as it takes to cast the ballot. That's how primaries work. It is nonbinding.

Also, Tina's call for Wyman to cancel the election was outrageous. It demonstrates that she literally does not understand the basic functions of the job. A secretary of state cannot unilaterally disenfranchise millions of voters because of their personal opinion regarding the "meaningfulness" of an election. Apparently Tina thinks that the SOS can/should be able to do this.

Tina's call for Wyman to unilaterally cancel an election came only after Cruz dropped out. Since initially exposing her complete ignorance, Tina has changed her message to calling on Kim to "ask the legislature to cancel the election." This would require Inslee to call a special session just to cancel the election. It would probably cost more in administrative costs to call the special session than the state would save by canceling the election this late in the process.

Perhaps if Dems hadn't blocked Wyman's request to move the primary up, we wouldn't be in this situation. Regardless, it is ludicrous that Tina is now trying to make political hay off of this. Typical HRC-style partisanship. Does our party even stand for its namesake anymore?