A federal judge in Seattle has upheld Washington's primary system against a challenge from the state's political parties.
Washington's voters adopted a new primary system in 2004. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, and their party preferences are listed on the ballot.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the new system in 2008, but said it could create confusion depending on how the ballots were designed. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour ruled today that the ballots make clear that the candidates listed are not necessarily endorsed by the political party they prefer — and thus, the ballots don't violate the parties' First Amendment right of association.
But the judge struck down the way the state runs elections for precinct committee officers, the grassroots organizers of the political parties. The judge said having such officers listed on ballots sent to all voters allows people to vote for PCOs regardless of party affiliation, and that does violate the parties' association rights.