Washington may do without primary elections next year

Washington state legislators are looking at the possibility of cancelling the state’s 2004 primary election, saying it will save taxpayers $6 million.
Supporters say an old caucus system, which would not cost the state anything, should do just fine.

Sen. Jim Kastama, a Puyallup Democrat, is working on legislation to suspend the 2004 election, and the proposal will be studied by Gov. Gary Locke.

But Secretary of State Sam Reed said he would not approve of the change because it could lead to abolition of the presidential primary, which he said is the best way to involve Americans in democracy and elections for the White House.

The primary system was approved in 1989, before which a caucus was used, and proposal opponents say a primary draws much more participation than a caucus ever did – bringing more than 1 million voters to the polls in 2000.

Both parties say the can do without the primary in 2004, with the Republicans saying they already know who their nominees will be and the Democrats saying they will not use the results this time anyway.