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Secretary of state: Party ID required for primary

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Voters in Washington are populists who "hate" being required to identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans to vote in the state's presidential primary on May 24, the secretary of the state last week told the Mason County Republican Women's Club.

"I don't think 'hate' is a strong enough word," Kim Wyman, the person who will certify the election, told the group April 1 at the Royal Buffet restaurant in Shelton. She added, "Our voters are fiercely independent and they want to remain private."

But Wyman stressed that after voters get their ballots the first part of May, they are required to check "R" or "D" or their vote won't count.

This primary is a partisan, nominating process," Wyman said.

April 25 is the deadline to register to vote or update addresses or names online or by mail. The 18-day voting period begins May 6.

Wyman said the presidential primary "is always a challenge in Washington state."

The pioneers who came to settle Washington in the late 1800s didn't trust political parties or government, Wyman said.

"Our state has deep populous roots," she said.

The state now sports a hybrid system, with both caucuses and primaries. The reason, said Wyman, is the success of televangelist Pat Robertson in 1988.

Robertson's people packed the state's Republican caucuses, which led to Washington being the only state to support him, Wyman pointed out. The next year, citizens launched an initiative to the Legislature to create the current system.

Wyman pointed out that after California and Texas, Washington has the most electoral votes west of the Mississippi River with 12. But Republican presidential candidates don't spend much time on the Evergreen State, she said.

"They write it off as a blue state — they're never going to win," she said.

During the question-and-answer session, many of the questions were about possible ways the Democratic Party could alter the vote count or change or ignore the results.

"The state can't tell Democrats or Republicans how they can choose their nominee — that's a party function," she said.

Wyman declined to give her opinion on the candidacy of the party's presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.

Overseeing elections is just one of Wyman's duties. Her responsibilities also include corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library and the State Archives.

Wyman was elected as the second female Secretary of State in 2012. Before that, Wyman worked as the Thurston County elections director for almost a decade and was elected county auditor in 2001.

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Original Publication Date: April 7, 2016

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