Washington’s presidential primary lacks the punch it might have had before Donald Trump beat his Republican rivals. But plenty of voters are still weighing in.
Nearly 523,000 ballots had been returned to county election offices as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office. That’s about 12.8 percent of the state’s 4 million registered voters.
Dave Ammons, a spokesman for Wyman, said her office is projecting turnout of about 42 percent, similar to the presidential primaries in 2000 and 2008. (The primary was canceled in 2004 and 2012 due to budget concerns.)
“Due to the lateness of the primary date and very recent developments, it really is anybody’s guess, but we’re encouraged by the early vote,” Ammons said in an email.
He noted the state has full vote-by-mail convenience and an 18-day window to mail back ballots, which must be postmarked by May 24. Typically, half the ballots come in during the final few days.
Primary voters must pick a party — they can’t vote in both the Democratic and Republican races.
The primary results will be used by the Republican Party to allocate the state’s 44 delegates to the GOP national convention in July.
Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee but has not yet collected the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. His last-to-fold rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, remain on the ballot here.
On the Democratic side, the results will be purely for show. The party will ignore the primary, having already allocated its delegates through caucuses dominated by supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
State Democratic Party leaders say they’re not encouraging primary participation because the results won’t mean much. They’ve criticized the $11.5 million expense, arguing the money could be put to better use. Democrats last year blocked a request by Wyman to move the primary date to March.
Wyman’s office has defended the primary and noted the early turnout is already higher than the 430,000 who participated in the Democratic caucuses in March.