Cost of primary elections getting higher on North Olympic Peninsula



Last week's state Supreme Court rejection of a challenge to a new partisan primary election system will add thousands of dollars to future Clallam County election costs, the county auditor said Monday.

And Jefferson County's auditor said her costs are likely to double as four primary ballots -- instead of the one blanket primary ballot used in Washington for 70 years -- are required statewide starting in September.

``This is going to be a very confusing primary for everyone,'' said Clallam Auditor Cathleen McKeown.

Requiring the four ballots -- one each for Republicans, Democrats, nonpartisans and probably Libertarians -- will add printing, binding, travel, training and labor costs totaling about $66,000 to the September primary election, she said.

For the first one, the additional expense will be absorbed by the Secretary of State's Office, which budgeted for the possible change after a Gov. Gary Locke veto which essentially locked in a Montana-style partisan primary.

That will comply with an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which in 2000 voided California's blanket primary -- and essentially similar wide-open primaries in Washington and Alaska -- by ruling that primary candidate selections should be made by the party members, themselves.

McKeown said in 2005 and afterward, Clallam County will be socked with more than $53,000 additional costs annually.

Mail-only punchcards

Clallam County uses a punchcard vote-by-mail system without polling places.

Jefferson County uses optical-scan paper ballots in elections held both by mail or at precinct locations on Election Day.



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