Presidential Primary FAQs

January 7 -  Deadline for each major political party to submit their final list of candidates to be printed on their side of the ballot. Once the names are submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State, changes cannot be made. (RCW 29A.56) The same candidates will appear in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet and online Voters’ Guide. The Secretary of State’s Office is now accepting profiles for the printed Presidential Primary Voters’ Pamphlet. If you’re a major political party candidate/campaign, please contact our office.

January 25 – Military and overseas ballots and Voters’ Pamphlets are mailed.

February 12 thru 21 –3.4 million Voters’ Pamphlets are mailed statewide.

February 21 – Ballots are mailed to every registered voter and voting centers open. 

March 2 - Deadline for online registrations and address updates; mailed registrations must be received by an elections official, not postmarked.

March 10 – Presidential Primary

  • Last day to register or update in person at a county elections office.
  • Mailed ballots must have a March 10 postmark to count.
  • All returned ballots must have a valid signature.
  • Ballot boxes and voting centers close at 8:00 p.m.
  • After 8:00 p.m., counties begin transmission of results to the Secretary of State.

March 27 – Last day for Secretary of State to certify Presidential Primary results.

July, August - The major political parties hold conventions to officially nominate their candidates for US President. The 2020 Democratic National Convention is July 13-16, 2020, and the Republican National Convention is August 24-27, 2020.

For more info, contact the WA State Democratic Party @ 206-583-0664, or the WA State Republican Party @ 425-460-0570.

The 2020 Presidential Primary is a chance to participate in the nomination process for the office of US President. It was first created in 1989 through a citizens' Initiative to the Legislature to include more voters in the process. This is the only election in which Washington's voters are required to mark and sign party declarations written by the major political parties. Every registered voter receives a mailed ballot packet after February 21.

Each major political party decides which candidates are printed on their side of the ballot. Each party submits its final list of names to the Secretary of State’s Office on January 7. Once their list of candidates is submitted to the Secretary of State, changes cannot be made. RCW 29A.56 For more information about each party's rules for getting on the list, please contact the WA State Democratic Party @ 206-583-0664, or the WA State Republican Party @ 425-460-0570.

Candidates on the ballot will appear in the same order in the printed Voters' Pamphlet. The order of political parties and candidates is determined by the number of votes cast for the office of US President at the last presidential election. The major political party that received the highest number of votes from the electors of this state for the office of president at the last presidential election must appear first. Candidates are placed on the ballot in alphabetical order within each party.

Minor and independent candidates do not participate in the Presidential Primary and must comply with a different convention process.

Check now to see if your registration is up to date! Every registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail after February 21. Voters in Washington do not declare a party when registering to vote, but to participate in the Presidential Primary nomination process, voters must subscribe to one of the major political party declarations written by the parties.

Vote for one only. Both the Democratic and Republican ballots will appear on a single (consolidated) ballot. Unlike other elections, you may only vote for one printed candidate on the entire ballot page.

Party declaration. You must mark and sign a political party declaration on the ballot return envelope. The declaration must match your voted candidate’s political party.

For the March 10 Presidential Primary only, the major political parties require voters to mark a party box. You must mark and sign the party declaration on your envelope for your vote to count per  RCW 29A.56.050. Your choice of party will not affect how you may vote in future elections. Attempts to change the party declaration wording could result in your ballot not being counted. Each major party wrote its declaration and provided it to the Secretary of State’s Office for ballot materials. In the November General Election, you will not declare a party and may vote for any presidential candidate you wish.
No. Your ballot is divided into 2 sides: Democratic Party (blue) and Republican Party (red). For your vote to count, you must vote for one candidate from the political party you marked on your envelope. If you vote both sides of the ballot, or the opposite side of the ballot, your vote will not count. Ballots are mailed February 21.
The Presidential Primary is a process of collecting votes for presidential candidates from Washington voters that sign a political party declaration and return a ballot. Caucuses are run by each party to determine issues for party platforms and to select the delegates who will participate in state and national party conventions. For more information about caucuses, please contact your political party.

Yes. Voters may participate in political party caucuses and the Presidential Primary, but only on behalf of the same party. Every voter participating in the Presidential Primary must sign a party declaration stating that the voter has not participated in the other party’s caucus process. Per state law, each party receives a list of voters who chose to affiliate with that party in the Presidential Primary only. 

No later than January 7, state law requires each major political party to provide a list of candidates to the Secretary of State's Office. Each political party decides which candidates are printed on their side of the ballot. Once their list of candidates is submitted to the Secretary of State, changes cannot be made.

It's possible for candidates to suspend their campaigns and notify the media before March 10, but every voted ballot returned to the local elections office will be processed and all results reported. Once your ballot has been processed by your local county elections office, it’s not possible to change your vote. Results will be certified by the Secretary of State no later than March 27.

The major political parties have adopted rules to decide how to use the Presidential Primary results to allocate delegates to the national nomination conventions. Both parties will be using the results of the Presidential Primary for delegate allocation. For more information about how your party intends to allocate delegates, please contact that political party.

The Presidential Primary in March is a nomination process conducted for major political party candidates for US President only. The August Primary is when voters in our state winnow down the field of candidates to the Top 2 finishers who qualify for the November General Election. Voters are not required to pick a party. You will not sign a party declaration to participate in the August Primary nor the November General Election.

"...a political party whose nominees for president and vice president received at least five percent of the total vote cast at the last presidential election." RCW 29A.04.086

Currently, only the Republican and Democratic Party qualify as major political parties. The Presidential Primary offers a unique opportunity to participate in the nomination process of major political party candidates. Unlike other elections in our state, voters mark and sign a party declaration on the ballot return envelope.

State Elections Division: [email protected] or (800) 448-4881

County Election Offices: Select your county on the map or view a list of all counties.

WA State Democratic Party: 206-583-0664

WA State Republican Party: 425-460-057