Sign Initiative 26, not some party oath

What frustrates you at the ballot box?

What frustrates you at the ballot box?

Whether on the Eastside or in downtown Seattle, many voters expressed anger when they were forced to sign a partisan oath or attend a partisan caucus in order for their views to matter in last month’s election. This should not surprise the political parties or our elected officials. Washington’s political culture is fiercely independent. We are a conscientious and well-informed electorate that takes our democratic responsibilities seriously. We do not like being told who we can or cannot vote for.

King County Elections recently stated that over one in four votes in the presidential primary were deemed invalid because those voters failed to declare a party. Many found it unconscionable to sign an oath to a particular party, and even more were outraged that this declaration would be made public.

Political parties play an important role in our civic dialogue. They register new voters, help first-time candidates, and bring like-minded people together to debate, discuss, organize, and act. However, when political parties are granted the right to limit voter choice and pigeonhole voters with oaths and declarations, their positive influence gives way to mass disenfranchisement.

After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 called Washington State’s beloved blanket primary into question, the parties moved quickly through the courts to require party selection in our state’s primary process. A 2004 initiative, which allowed voters to select from all candidates in partisan elections, passed by nearly 60%, but party leaders again chose to challenge voter choice in court.

Although hope for reestablishing the open primary in court is fading, voter choice can still be