Washington's presidential primary only counts for the GOP - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington's presidential primary only counts for the GOP

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - More than a million voters have already sent in their ballots for Washington state's presidential primary, even though the results will only be used to allocate Republican delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention.
Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system, but Democrats will ignore the results of Tuesday's statewide primary, having chosen to continue to use the smaller party caucus system to allocate their delegates to their national convention.
Both parties see at least one shared benefit from the statewide election. Because Washington state does not have party registration, the presidential primary - which requires voters to attest they are a member of either the Republican or Democratic Party - gives the state parties important information for their voter lists, since the voter's party choice becomes a public record, though their actual vote remains private.
Here's what to expect Tuesday:
THE BALLOT: More than 4 million voters received a single ballot in the mail this month. The ballot lists both Republican and Democratic candidates for president, however, in order for the ballot to be valid and counted, voters can only pick one party and vote for one candidate. Even though Donald Trump is the only candidate remaining in the Republican contest, John Kasich and Ted Cruz are still on the ballot because they suspended their campaigns in early May, after the ballots were printed. Ben Carson, who suspended his campaign in March, is still on the ballot because he never submitted a withdrawal of candidacy with the state. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders are listed for the Democratic race.
ELECTION NIGHT: Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday or dropped in an elections drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. The state's 39 counties will begin reporting numbers after 8 p.m. Tuesday, and most will provide daily updates as more votes are processed and arrive in the mail. Results will be posted on vote.wa.gov.
HOW THE REPUBLICAN DELEGATES ARE ALLOCATED: State Republicans will be sending 44 delegates to the national convention in Cleveland in July. Thirty of those delegates will be allocated proportionally based on candidate percentages in the congressional districts - three delegates from each of the 10 congressional districts. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a congressional district, they get all three of that district's delegates. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent and two candidates get more than 20 percent, then the one with most gets 2 delegates. If three candidates get more than 20 percent, each are allocated one delegate.
Fourteen at large delegates, which include three Republican National Committee members, will be allocated according to the statewide primary votes. Those delegates are allocated proportionally to candidates who have at least 20 percent of the statewide vote.
The delegates were chosen at the state Republican convention this past weekend but will not know who they are representing until the results of the primary. Of the 41 elected delegates, 40 were Cruz supporters. However, under party rules, each delegate will be bound to the results of the presidential primary for the first round of voting at the national convention.
WHAT DO DEMOCRATS DO? Democrats ignore the results of the statewide primary, choosing instead to allocate their delegates based on the state party's caucus system. Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the district caucuses on March 26. Following the results of this past weekend's congressional district caucuses, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said that 74 delegates will go to Sanders and 27 will go to Clinton. Washington Democrats will also be sending 17 superdelegates to the national convention. Superdelegates are technically unpledged party and elected leaders, but a majority of them - including Gov. Jay Inslee and the state's Congressional delegation - have already said they support Clinton.
WHY HOLD A PRIMARY IF ONLY ONE PARTY USES THE RESULTS AND ONLY ONE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE REMAINS? State law requires that that the primary -which was created by a citizen initiative to the Legislature in 1989 - be held on the fourth Tuesday in May of a presidential year unless the Legislature cancels it. While the Legislature has done that before, most recently in 2012 for budgetary reasons, majority Republicans in the Senate and majority Democrats in the House did not advance any bills to do that for this election cycle. The $11.5 million price tag for the presidential primary was approved by both chambers and signed off on by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. The Republican field was still crowded when the Legislature adjourned mid-April of this year, so lawmakers would have had to come back into special session to cancel the election.

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