Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Ways & Means Committee

SB 5119

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Canceling the 2012 presidential primary.

Sponsors: Senators Pridemore and Kline; by request of Secretary of State and Governor Gregoire.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Cancels the 2012 presidential primary.

Hearing Date: 4/13/11

Staff: Wendy Polzin (786-7137).


Historically, political parties in Washington selected their nominee for President and allocated their delegates to the national nominating conventions through party caucuses. In 1989 the Legislature approved an Initiative to the Legislature which established the presidential primary. The Secretary of State must conduct a primary each presidential election year to allow citizens the opportunity to express their preferences as to the major political party candidates for President. Following the primary, the state and county committees of each major political party are provided lists of voters who participated in their party's presidential primary.

The original legislation required delegates to the party national conventions to be allocated to each candidate for President based on the results of the preference primary. Votes cast for a particular presidential candidate were considered votes cast for delegate positions committed to that candidate. The selection of actual individuals as delegates remained a party function. In 1995 the Legislature amended the law to allow party delegates to be allocated in whole or in part based on the results of party precinct caucuses, rather than the preference primary. The 1995 legislation also requires the Office of the Secretary of State to amend its administrative rules to comply with the major political parties' national and state rules.

Presidential preference primaries were held in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2008. The 2004 presidential preference primary was cancelled. Unless the date is changed by statutory process, the presidential preference primary for the 2012 presidential election will be held on the fourth Tuesday in May, 2012.

Summary of Bill:

No presidential primary may be held in 2012.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.