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Washington State Wins Blanket Primary Case

News Release
Issued: March 27, 2002

Federal District Court Judge Franklin D. Burgess today ruled in favor of the motion of the Secretary of State, declaring Washington's Blanket Primary constitutional. Political parties challenged the primary election system in the summer of 2000 following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found California’s Blanket Primary unconstitutional.

"This is a victory for the people of Washington who overwhelmingly support the Blanket Primary," said Secretary of State Sam Reed. "Our voters fiercely and rightly defend their freedom to choose any candidate on the ballot."
Sam Reed
In a 31-page opinion, Judge Burgess ruled "The political parties' evidence that there is a burden on their constitutional right of association is, for the most part, incompetent and inadmissible, and at best, it is insubstantial and speculative; the political parties have failed to carry their burden of proof."

Washington State's Blanket Primary system was originally adopted by initiative in 1935. It allows voters to choose any candidate on the primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

"I hope, in light of this decision, the parties will reassess their desire to de-rail Washington’s primary election system," Reed said. "The Blanket Primary has worked in our state for more than sixty years. This ruling sends a clear message that in Washington State the primary belongs to the people."

Additional information and full text of the decision are available on the Secretary of State's website at www.secstate.wa.gov.

Full Text of the Court Decision

Conclusion (pages 28-29 of ruling) (PDF)
Pages 1-10 (PDF)
Pages 11-20 (PDF)
Pages 21-31 (PDF)

Complete Document (Pages 1-31) (2.8Mb PDF)

You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the document. It is available free from the Adobe web site.