The top-two primary in Washington State

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Law and Justice

Publication Date

Winter 2009


In August 2008, Washington State advanced its new primary system, known as the top-two primary. This system gave voters more choice of candidates running for office, excluding those running for president or vice president; and those running for nonpartisan offices(judicial, municipal, fire district, school board). The top-two primary allowed voters to choose among all candidates running for office and did not require voters to declare a party affiliation to vote. Anyone interested was able to put his or her name forward as a candidate. As long as the candidate received at least 1 percent of the total votes cast in a particular race, the top two candidates—regardless of party affiliation—who received the most votes in the primary moved on to the general election in November.


This article was originally published in National Civic Review. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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National Civic Review


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