Washington state's presidential primary: How it works

FILE - In this photo taken May 7, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — More than a million voters have sent in their ballots for Washington state's presidential primary, even though the results will be used only to allocate delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system. Democrats opted for the caucus system to divvy up their delegates and will ignore the primary results.

Here's what to expect Tuesday:


More than 4 million voters received a ballot in the mail this month. It lists both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, though voters can pick only one party and vote for one candidate.

Donald Trump is the only candidate remaining in the Republican contest. However, 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 ended his campaign in March, remains on the ballot because he never submitted a withdrawal of candidacy with the state.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are listed for the Democratic race.



Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday or deposited in an elections drop box by 8 p.m. After that, the state's 39 counties will begin reporting numbers, and most will provide daily updates as more votes are processed and arrive by mail. Results will be posted on vote.wa.gov.



State Republicans will send 44 delegates to the July national convention in Cleveland. Thirty will be allocated proportionally based on candidate percentages in the congressional districts — three delegates from each of the 10 districts.

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 with at least 20 percent of the statewide vote.

The delegates were chosen over the weekend at the state Republican convention, but they won't know who they're representing until the primary results. Of the 41 elected delegates, 40 were Cruz supporters. Under party rules, each delegate is bound to the primary results for the first round of voting at the national convention.



Sanders overwhelmingly won the district caucuses March 26. Following the congressional district caucuses over the weekend, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said 74 delegates will go to Sanders and 27 to Clinton.

Washington Democrats also will send 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 said they support Clinton.



State law requires the primary be held on the fourth Tuesday in May of a presidential year unless the Legislature cancels it. Lawmakers have done that before, most recently in 2012 for budgetary reasons.

This year, both chambers approved the primary's $11.5 million price tag, and the governor signed off on it when he signed the state budget into law. Neither the majority Republicans in the Senate nor the majority Democrats in the House advanced bills to cancel the primary.

The Republican field was still crowded when the Legislature adjourned in mid-April, so lawmakers would have had to convene in a special session to cancel the election. No legislative leaders raised that prospect.

Last year, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman sought to move up the primary to March. Democrats opposed the effort, and it failed to get a required two-thirds vote.



Both parties see at least one shared benefit from the statewide primary election. Washington has no party registration, but the primary requires voters to attest to being either Republican or Democrat. That gives the state parties important information for their voter lists. Residents' party choices are public record, while their votes remain private.

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