Presidential Primary moving forward under Senate Bill 5273

The Washington Legislature has passed a measure that would move the state’s presidential primary from May to March.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman praised the state House of Representatives for its Monday vote.

The House’s 54-42 vote on Senate Bill 5273, which passed the Senate 29-18 in January, brings Washington closer to giving the state’s voters more influence in the presidential nomination process.

“After years of urging our Legislature to move Washington’s Presidential Primary to an earlier date, it’s immensely gratifying to see the Legislature support this bill and bring it closer to becoming law,” Secretary Wyman said . “Moving Washington’s primary earlier in the national process will give our voters a greater voice and draw more attention to our state’s concerns and issues.”

The measure moves the primary to the second Tuesday in March, and each party, instead of the secretary of state, would determine which names are placed on the ballot representing the parties.

Washington has no party registration, but the primary requires voters to attest to being either Republican or Democrat. That gives the state parties important information for their voter lists. Residents’ party choices are public record, while their votes remain private.

Under the measure that passed Monday, voters must continue to declare a party affiliation when voting in the presidential primary.

Secretary Wyman said that although she is disappointed that the passed bill does not include her proposal to allow voters to participate in the primary without declaring a party affiliation, voters will still gain more choices by having a primary on an earlier date when the ballot includes a greater number of candidates still in the race.

SB 5273 is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.