Auditor prepared for February primary


Kitsap County writer

As the 2008 presidential election shifts into full gear, the Kitsap County auditor says the county is ready for the first test of its vote-by-mail system in a national election.

“I think we’re ready,” Karen Flynn said. “Prior to adopting all-mail voting in 2005, 80 percent of the voters were already using mail-in ballots.”

Kitsap County voters will have two chances to express their partisan presidential candidate preferences, in both the precinct caucuses on the Feb. 9 and Feb. 19 primaries.

The caucuses are a series of less formal gatherings in schools, homes and other locations while the primary will be a standard vote-by-mail election.

Flynn said political parties prefer caucuses to primaries because caucuses provide more party control. To this end, the parties use caucuses to select delegates to their respective conventions.

Here, the parties differ: Republicans select 51 percent of their delegates through caucuses and the remainder from the primary. Democrats select all the delegates through the caucuses, although the percentage is assigned relative to voter preference.

Even as this dilutes or eliminates its impact, Flynn feels it is still important to vote in the primary.

“The primary is an important indicator of which candidates that Washington voters want,” Flynn said. “This information will have an impact on the national campaign, even if it does not change the delegate vote count.” 

The names on the ballot will be determined after Dec. 31. Flynn said eight Democrats and nine Republicans are now on the ballot, even though Republican candidate Tom Tancredo has already discontinued his campaign.

By the time of the primary, several other candidates will presumably have left the race.

Voters who want to participate in a caucus must contact the individual party to learn the proper location. Once arrived, they must declare allegiance to the party as well as a candidate preference.

To vote in the primary a voter must check a party preference on the outside of the envelope and select a candidate of that party on the ballot. Flynn said if the candidate does not belong to the selected party the ballot will not be counted.

There is nothing — aside from conscience — to prevent a voter from participating in the one party’s caucus and voting in another’s primary.

Flynn said several special elections may take place in 2008, but the subjects will not be determined until 90 days prior to their occurrence. The primary for all other offices aside from the presidency will be held Aug. 19, with election day scheduled for Nov. 4.

In addition to the president, residents will vote for governor, U.S. representatives and state legislators. Neither of Washington’s U.S. senate seats are open in 2008.

Kitsap County voters will elect county commissioners in the north and south districts, along with the entire superior court.

All other local elected officials are up for re-election in 2010.

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