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The Right to Voter Privacy in Washington

Washington is forcing voters to choose a political party on their primary ballots – and to do so publicly.

If you notice a yellow highlight on the page, hover over it for the definition!

The Washington presidential primary is set for March 10. The ballots have already been mailed out, and many voters are quite upset. They have to pick a party on the outside of the ballot, or their votes won’t be counted. Normally votes are private, so voters were surprised they have to check which political party they support (Republican or Democrat) where people can see it. Not only can pretty much anyone see that, but the information is made public for 60 days.

When it comes to voting, how far does the right to privacy extend? Do we also have the right to keep our choice of political party shielded from others? Washington state voters seem to think so.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said that her office has had a lot of complaints:

“We’ve heard reports that people think their mailman or their letter carrier will throw those ballots away or that elections officials will throw them away and we’re assuring people that won’t happen.”

How can anyone promise such a thing? Will they have guards following the mail carriers to make sure they don’t throw away ballots marked for the party they don’t like? Why is it needed to put that information on the cover of the ballot? Why not inside, where only the election staff have access to it?

A primary is a party nomination process. On the state’s ballot, there are 13 Democratic candidates, as they were printed before some dropped out of the presidential race. On the Republican side, there are only two choices: President Donald Trump or a write-in candidate.

The question we all should be asking here is: Why make it so public? If the prime concern is voter fraud, then why not keep it private and sealed, to be seen only by the eyes of officials?

Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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