State taxpayers should not fund party elections

The political parties wanted control of their elections. The court gave it to them. Party elections are no longer the state's responsibility.

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Washington state taxpayers have no obligation to fund elections for the state's major political parties.

Yet, Republicans and Democrats have filed a joint lawsuit to mandate the state conduct their elections for local precinct committee officers. The parties are asking the court to overturn new regulations established by Secretary of State Sam Reed's office that ends party officer elections on the state's Top 2 Primary ballot.

Ironically, the state has a Top 2 Primary because party officials sued the state of Washington several years ago. They wanted the state to butt out of their primary election. They wanted to strictly control who voted in the Republican primary and Democratic primary.

Well, the courts ultimately agreed that Washington's primary system, which allowed voters to cross party lines, was unconstitutional.

In the wake of the legal rulings, voters approved the Top 2 Primary that allows the top vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, to be finalists on the General Election Ballot.

Nevertheless, the parties want the state to continue to conduct elections for the local precinct committee officers, whose only function is to serve as members of the governing body for the political parties at the county level.

Last year Judge John Coughenour of U.S. District Court in Seattle ruled that the decision striking down the open primary as unconstitutional must extend to the election of precinct committee officers. "Washington's method of electing political-party precinct committee officers is unconstitutional because it allows non-party members to vote for officers of the political parties," Coughenour wrote.

The parties can't have it both ways. This is what they wanted -- or said they wanted.

Party elections are their elections and they must fund those elections.

We agree with Reed that not one more dime of taxpayer money should be spent conducting party elections.

And we would hope the Legislature stands firm and does not take action to usurp Reed's wise decision.

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