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Crowded Primary Ballots Becoming More Common In Washington

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
A voter drops off his ballot at a King County Elections drop box.

Voters are finding this year’s primary ballots filled with names of candidates hoping to make the cut to run in the general election. Those crowded ballots are becoming the norm.



Getting on the ballot in Washington state is pretty easy.

“In other states you have to submit signatures or have some sort of nominating convention," Chris Vance said. "Here anyone can write a check equal to 1 percent the annual salary and your name’s on the ballot.”


Vance is a former chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, and now he’s a consultant.


As long as you have the $1,951.86 to become a mayoral candidate for the city of Seattle, or the $468.39 to run for the hotly contested seat serving the 45th Legislative District, you’re a contender.


Making sure you gain enough votes to win is the next hurdle. Some candidates ignore the whole part about actually campaigning.


“Some people seem to get some sort of ego gratification by seeing their name on the ballot and maybe a statement in the voter’s pamphlet,” Vance said.


But voters tend to spot those folks right away.


“We have enough history now to see that the vast majority of voters do not want to waste their vote on fringe candidates who have no chance of winning,” Vance said.


Even with savvy voters and candidates with recognizable names, Vance says races like one for Seattle mayor, which has 21 people in the running, can still have “unpredictable” outcomes.


Primary election ballots are due Tuesday.



Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.