Sec. of State believes Washington primary will ‘shatter’ turnout records
“Whether healthy or sick, please don’t lick.”
With the Washington state primary on Tuesday, this is the new reminder from the Secretary of State’s Office due to the current outbreak of coronavirus in the state. The Washington State Department of Health asks voters to use alternative methods to seal your ballot return envelopes, such as a wet sponge or cloth.
“We’ve been talking to Department of Health and Department of Homeland Security, and they’re concerned that they don’t know how long the virus lives on an envelope that’s been licked, so we thought, maybe just try to help our folks processing ballot envelopes,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman told KIRO Radio‘s Seattle’s Morning News. ” … [We’ve also] done things on the back end, like wear gloves when you’re processing ballots.”
Before the outbreak, the major concern surrounding the upcoming primary was in regards to having to declare a party affiliation on the outside of the envelope.
Wyman explained that this is standard practice, used to help county officials separate the ballots and ensure that Democrats vote for Democrats and Republicans vote for Republicans. Names are later taken away from the ballot, allowing for a secret vote.
Any cross over votes, when you check one party and vote the other, don’t count, and neither will ballots with no party affiliation.
Wyman wants to bring back the unaffiliated vote and is personally not a fan of the required party declaration.
“I have voted,” she clarified. “I just didn’t pick a party box because there’s only one candidate on my side of the ballot. And it’s to bring more light to this idea that there are many people in the state that want to participate; don’t care if the parties use their vote, they just want to be heard.”
Wyman did acknowledge that her ballot will probably be rejected by the canvassing board.
Last time the unaffiliated option was available in 2000, more than half a million people chose it as an option. Wyman thinks it may be an option again in the future, especially following the feedback received from this election.
Despite the complaints of party declaration, Wyman does believe this year will set records in voter turnout for Washington state.
“As of yesterday, we’re up to 1.1 million people that have returned a ballot,” she said. “[Four] years ago, we peaked out at 1.4 million, total. … I think we’re going to shatter our turnout for the presidential primary.”
The Washington state primary takes place on Tuesday, March 10. To participate, mailed ballots must be postmarked by March 10 and ballots must have a marked party declaration and valid signature to count in this election. You may register, update your information, and vote in-person by 8 p.m. Tuesday.