WA Presidential Primary underway; participation requires party affiliation

The Washington Presidential Primary election is underway and ballot boxes in all 39 counties will be open.

Vote-by-mail ballots are being sent to the state’s 4.8 million active voters, who may return their ballots to county drop boxes or by mail using the postage-paid envelopes included with each ballot.

“Every eligible voter in Washington can participate in this critical step toward picking the next president,” Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. “The choice we’ll make in November comes from the selections made in the primary process. I encourage voters statewide to consult the resources we provide and make informed decisions in all this year’s important elections, including the Presidential Primary.”

For the Presidential Primary only, state law and political party rules require voters to sign a party declaration on their ballot envelopes for their vote to count, and the voter must mark their ballot for one of that party’s candidates.

Candidate names on the ballot were submitted by each political party to meet a Jan. 9 deadline specified in RCW 29A.56.031. 

Candidates who have ended their campaigns since that deadline remain on the ballot, under state law.

Party affiliation declarations provided in the Presidential Primary do not become part of a voter’s permanent registration, and the declaration does not affect how a voter may participate in future elections. 

Voters’ party declarations are removed from state records 60 days after certification of the Presidential Primary.

Ballots must be postmarked by March 12 or returned to a county drop box or voting center by 8 p.m. on March 12. Voters can update their registration or address online or by mail by March 4 to vote in the Presidential Primary. After March 4, voters can visit a county elections office or voting center until 8 p.m. Election Day to register or update their registration.

Results of Washington’s Presidential Primary will be used to help political parties choose their nominees for President at national conventions later this year. Each party’s nominees for President and Vice President will appear on the Nov. 7 General Election ballot, along with state and local candidates selected in the state primary Aug. 6.

“The Presidential Primary is a unique election for Washington voters, with unique rules for participation,” Hobbs said. “My office and county elections leaders statewide are available to clear up any questions voters might have. We’re committed to providing trustworthy information to help people make their voices heard.”

Further information for Presidential Primary voters can be found on the Office of Secretary of State website at sos.wa.gov/elections, including detailed answers to frequently asked questions.