Washington finally could have some national clout

  WHATCOM ­— Within a week the 2020 national presidential selection process launches with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary election on Feb. 11. Nevada and South Carolina weigh in. The jackpot of Super Tuesday — 14 states holding primaries — is on March 3, and then Washington comes into play.

  For the first time, the Evergreen State’s Presidential Primary will happen early enough, March 10, to be a factor in shaping the race for the nomination — this year just on the Democratic side, of course.

  Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has certified the list of candidates that voters will see on their ballots to be mailed out on Feb. 21.

  The sole Republican is Donald J. Trump. If choosing the Democratic slate, however, be prepared: you will see 13 names, plus Uncommitted Delegates as an entry.

  These are the Democrats for President, as submitted by the state party by Jan. 7: Michael Bennet, Joseph R. Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

  Enen if a candidate withdraws now, his or her name will still be on the March 10 ballot, Wyman notes. In fact, candidate Booker has pulled out. 

  The state of Washington in 2019 finally passed legislation setting a Presidential Primary date and saying how candidates gain access to the ballot — although the ability to do so has existed for 30 years. 

  The law also binds political parties to use the results of the election. “Both parties will be using the results of the Presidential Primary for delegate allocation,” says the Secretary of State’s office in election explanation. However, exactly how delegates will be allocated to national nominating conventions is up to party rules. 

  For this election only, it is necessary to declare a party preference in order to vote on that party’s slate. “Your choice of party will not affect how you may vote in future elections,” the Secretary of State says. 

  Also unlike other elections, in this one you may vote only for one printed candidate on the entire ballot page.

  Voters in Washington do not declare a party when registering to vote, but to participate in the Presidential Primary nomination process, they must subscribe to one of the major political party declarations written by the parties.

  Just in 2016 the Presidential nominating process in Washington State was still very tangled. In March Democrats held caucuses — groups of local election precincts gathered in neighborhood places to argue preferences and vote — while Republicans used a public election primary that was far later, the fourth Tuesday of May.

  These are more answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

  What is the Presidential Primary? The 2020 Presidential Primary is a chance to participate in the nomination process for the office of U.S. President. 

  Why do I need to mark a party box? For this election only, the major political parties require voters to mark a party box. You must mark and sign the party declaration on your envelope for your vote to count, per  RCW 29A.56.050. And the declaration must match your voted candidate’s political party.

  What are Uncommitted Delegates? This option was requested by the Democratic Party, not Republicans. You may vote for one candidate or the “uncommitted” option, but not both. A vote for “uncommitted” allows uncommitted delegates who represent Washington to decide who they will vote for during their national convention as opposed to being bound to a certain candidate.