Grange files 'People's Choice' initiative for primaries



The Washington State Grange, the farm-based fraternal group that sponsored the state's blanket primary back in the 1930s, filed an initiative Thursday to replace the system overturned by the courts.
The Grange's "People's Choice Initiative" plan would send the top two vote-getters in the primary election to the general election, regardless of their political parties.

The Grange will hit the streets with initiative petitions this spring if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't accept review of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that tossed out Washington's primary -- and if lawmakers don't approve something similar to what the Grange wants.

"The reason for running it now is that it's a backup to the courts" and so lawmakers will know it's coming, said Terry Hunt of Coulee City, state Grange president.

The Grange has about 30,000 active members in about 300 local granges. The organization, along with labor and others, sponsored the original blanket primary initiative to the Legislature in 1934.

The other main proposal being considered by the Legislature is dubbed "Open Primary, Private Choice." That system, used in Montana and some other states, requires voters to choose only one party's ballot, with no record kept of which ballot the person takes.

Gov. Gary Locke has endorsed this approach, and Senate Democratic Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, spoke in its favor Thursday.


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