In the next presidential election, Okanogan County Democrats will help select their party’s nominee by a mail-in primary ballot, rather than through caucus meetings that have been the party’s tradition for years.
The Washington Democratic Party decided earlier this month to allocate delegates to candidates in the 2020 election through a vote-by-mail primary election. The change was supported by a wide margin of state Democratic Central Committee members, who voted 121-40 to abandon the caucus system.
In another change, Washington’s presidential primary has been moved from May to March, and will require that voters indicate party affiliation. The Legislature last month approved a bill changing the primary date to the second Tuesday in March, and Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running for president, signed the measure into law.
Many lawmakers said they hoped the earlier primary will increase Washington’s relevance in the 2020 presidential election.
The change from caucuses to a primary system got strong support from Democrats who sent comments to state party officials, according to an email from the Okanogan County Democratic Party. Of 12,800 public comments, 93.6 percent were in favor of changing to a primary system.
For the 2016 presidential election, Methow Valley Democrats held caucuses at Liberty Bell High School, where it was standing room only due to strong turnout. The overflow crowd spilled out of the school cafeteria into the gym and common areas to debate presidential preferences and discuss platform resolutions.
The state Republican Party has used a presidential primary in past elections to award delegates to presidential candidates.