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Voters, auditor gear up for presidential primary

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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More than 36,000 ballots will be mailed out May 4 to all registered voters in Mason County for the upcoming May 24 presidential primary.

Mason County Auditor Karen Herr said her office has been processing an upturn in voter registration cards — a result of this year's tense Republican primary between New York businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"In the last couple of weeks, there has been an upturn of 100 to 200 voter registration cards that were turned in," she said. "We saw the same increase prior to the Democratic Caucus in March."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders easily beat frontrunner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the March 26 Washington Democratic caucus by more than 40 percent. The Democratic National Committee allocated Washington State's delegates based off the caucus results — Sanders won 25, while Clinton won nine.

How Washington's Republican delegates are apportioned for the Republican National Committee National Convention in Cleveland this summer depends on the May 24 primary results.

During the first round of voting, Washington delegates will be bound to vote for the candidate that comes out of the primary victorious.

If a clear majority of delegates does not throw its support behind a single candidate, then a second round of voting will open up. In that round, Washington delegates would be able to vote for whichever candidate they want.

As of Tuesday, 36,368 voters were registered in Mason County, compared with 30,161 voters who were registered in February 2008, the last time both parties had contested primaries.

The presidential primary was created by the Washington state Legislature in 1989 as a response to a citizen initiative, which offered voters an opportunity to participate in the nomination of major political party candidates.

Each political party may choose whether they will use the presidential primary results to allocate delegates to their national nomination convention.

According to the Secretary of State, this year the RNC will use the primary results to allocate 100 percent of its convention delegates. The Democratic National Committee will not use the primary results to allocate any of its delegates.

The presidential primary is unlike any other election that is conducted in Washington State.

For this election only, voters are required to make a party declaration at the time of voting.

Voters must choose and sign a political party declaration on the return ballot envelope; voters must then vote for only one candidate on the ballot of the same political party as the signed declaration, and the voter's political party preference will be a matter of public record following the certification of the election.

However, each voter's candidate choice is secret and is never tied to the voter record.

Ballots must be postmarked by May 24, or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m.

Voters who wait until a couple of days before the deadline to fill out their ballot are urged to use a ballot drop box provided by the county to ensure their vote counts.

Included in the ballot mailing is a list of ballot box locations in Mason County.

Those not currently registered to vote in Washington have until May 16 to do so. To register in person, visit the Mason County Auditor's office at 411 N. Fifth St. Contact the Mason County Elections Department at 427-9670, ext. 470, with any questions.

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 28, 2016

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