Election 2004

The day of not declaring a political party affiliation are over and now state voters must declare before casting their votes whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians.

The voter, however, will still be the only one privy to that information.

The Sept. 14 primary election marks the first appearance of the “Montana Style” election in Washington state and Island County.

“We’ve changed from blanket primary to nominating primary,” said Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, who called it an “open primary, private choice.”

The open primary means voters must vote only on a single-party ballot. For example, in the governor’s race, all 11 candidates would have previously been on one ballot in the primary election, Sinclair said. Under the Montana primary, a voter may only select a ballot for one party, Sinclair said. He or she could then only choose among the six Democratic candidates if declaring as a Democrat, among three Republican candidates as Republican, or the two Libertarian candidates as a Libertarian.

In addition, each of the three ballots include a section on which to vote on proposed tax levy raises and non-partisan candidates.

A fourth ballot with only non-partisan candidates and tax levy issues is also available.

Sinclair said state law requires all other parties, such as the Green Party, to nominate candidates only for the general election.

This year’s Nov. 2 general election will stay the same, with voters allowed to vote for any political party candidate he or she chooses, Sinclair said.

With the primary come a number of voting choices, whether a voter is making selections from home or at the polls.

Absentee voters, who make up about 70-percent of Island County voters, will be the first see the changes later this month.

Absentee voters will receive the four separate ballots and ballot pages that contain the offices and the candidate names for each party. Sinclair said absentee voters must then chose the one party-specific ballot on which they wish to vote. Absentee voters may only return one ballot to be counted.

If the voter returns more than one ballot, his or her votes will not be counted. Sinclair said voters should destroy any extra ballots.

Absentee ballots will go out on Aug. 24 or 25. Voters will receive them either Aug. 30 or 31. They must be postmarked back to the auditor’s office Sept. 14 to be counted.

For those who go to actual polling places, voters will receive envelopes after registration. The envelopes will contain the four separate ballots; the voter must choose only one for his or her use.

Register to vote

Voting age citizens of Island County can still register to vote in the primary and general elections this fall. To vote in the primary, voters must go in person to the Island County auditor’s office in Coupeville and register by August 30. To register for the general election, voters must register at least 30 days before the Nov. 2 general election or register at the auditor’s office in person at least 15 days before the election.

Changes set for primary election

Political party selection still kept secret

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