On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Washington Candidate Filings: Trouble With Party Preference Designation

This is filing week for Washington State candidates, and a list of those that have filed so far can be found at the Secretary of State Web site.

Those paying attention will know that this year we have a "top two" primary system. Only the top two candidates will advance to the general election, regardless of the candidate's party affiliation. Furthermore, as a concession to the Republican and Democratic parties, candidates will not be allowed to state (perhaps falsely) they are the endorsed party candidate, but only that they prefer a given political party. Parties can make endorsements, but not on the ballot, only in the election booklet that is sent to all voters.

Needless to say, it is a messed up system, and it is made more-so when you take a look at what the candidates have supposedly indicated their party preference to be, Here is the breakdown:
63 Prefers Democratic Party
44 Prefers Republican Party
10 Prefers Democrat Party
9 Prefers G.O.P. Party
4 States No Party Preference
2 Prefers Green Party
1 Prefers Independent Party
1 Prefers Libertarian Party
1 Prefers Party of Commons Party
1 Prefers R Party
1 Prefers America's Third Party
1 Prefers Constitution Party
1 Prefers D Party
I say "supposedly" because as the list above shows, ten candidates are listed as "Prefers Democrat Party".

It is well known in the Democratic Party that the phrase "Democrat Party" is consider an insult to many Democrats, so to see Democratic candidates use the phrase is surprising.

Richard Pope (remarkably not a candidate this time around), made the observation yesterday in a thread at HorsesAss. Apparently congressman Baird's entry was made that way. Surely that was in error, but made by who?

Last night I found that seven candidates were listed as "Prefers Democrat Party", so I sent an email to all of them to inquire and alert them to the issue. By this morning a couple of them had responded thanking me for the heads up. However, tonight the tally of "Prefers Democrat Party" candidates is larger, and so I have contacted the additional candidates about the problem.

One of these, Jim Kastama, State Senator for LD 25, indicated that many candidates have filed electronically, and entered "Democrat" for their party affiliation. However, this is the entry form they are using at the Secretary of State site:

It would appear that people are entering "Democrat" to indicate that's what they are, but not noticing the form is trying to show them that the word they enter will actually be written as part of the phrase "(Prefers ______ Party)".

So it appears that this is the result of the way the Secretary of State has tried to box candidates into how they write their party preference to avoid them writing just anything they wanted. Consequently, some candidates have not recognized that when they entered "Democrat" in the form it would render as "(Prefers Democrat Party)". Kastama also told me that the Secretary of State is supposedly contacting candidates about this suggesting they make the correction and ensuring them it will be changed if they respond.

I hope that's true because it appears that many of the candidates I've contacted were not yet aware of the problem.

I'll be keeping track as filing week continues. If you believe your candidate or legislator should correct their preference entry you should let them know about it as I'm sure it can be corrected without any additional cost due to the circumstances and obvious confusion.

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