A party declaration is needed for your primary election ballot

Washington's Primary Election ballot 2024
Voters must declare, on the envelope, their party preference for the primary election. It must match the chosen candidate on the ballot. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)



Primary elections are underway. A Yakima elections leader gives some tips that people can keep in mind to make sure their vote counts.

Voters are deciding which two candidates will run in the presidential election.

Martha Jimenez is the Bilingual Outreach Program coordinator at the Yakima County Elections Office. She said these elections differ a bit from the regular ones.

“When you get your ballot packet and you open it up, there’s an additional step from signing your ballot. You also have to declare a party preference,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez explained the election helps major political parties choose the presidential nominees.

Jimenez said Washington voters must mark on the ballot envelope whether they are Republican or Democrat, even though Washington doesn’t require declaring a party affiliation when people register to vote. 

Selecting a party doesn’t mean voters will remain affiliated to that party, said Jimenez.

“That will only stay on your record for 60 days after we certify the election and it’s not gonna impact your party preference for the next elections,” she said.

Jimenez said the declaration must match with the party of the candidate you vote for.

If they don’t match, it is “going to go to the canvassing board to make that final determination,” said Jimenez.

Marking two candidates on the ballot or modifying the declaration on the envelope also invalid the vote.

“Say you scratch out Republican or Democrat and you write in independent. You’ve modified that oath and we cannot accept it. You will receive communication from our office. That is because we are having an election for the parties,” explained Jimenez.

Jimenez also reminded voters to sign their ballots and make sure the signature matches the one on their ID or driver’s license. 

She explained as soon the ballots go through the elections office machine to be counted, it takes an image of the return envelope and uploads it to a database.

“It’s all the history of all the previous signatures, that voter has submitted via voter registration forms or signature update forms. We compare that signature and then we go ahead and either accept the signature or challenge if the signature doesn’t match,” said Jimenez.

She also said there are many resources for people to check their ballots status. Voters can go to VoteWA.gov to track their ballot and can also sign up for text notifications.

Also, people can go to the Secretary of State’s website for more information about the primary election.