There may be a generational difference in the response to the decision this weekend by the state Democratic Party to use state primary election results in the process to select the party’s nomination for president.

Prior to this, the Democrats had exclusively used the results of the caucus system. The Democratic slate was on the primary ballot but the results were not used to assign delegates. In recent years, the state Republican Party has used the primary results.

According to an Associated Press article, the state party’s central committee voted 121-40 to start using a hybrid system that uses the state’s vote-by-mail system for a presidential primary to apportion delegates to candidates, and caucuses and conventions to select which delegates will represent the state at the national convention in Milwaukee.

Some who grew up with the caucus system will be bemoaning the shift. The caucus system is participatory democracy in its purest form. People gather in groups and debate issues and candidates before voting on who to support.

But in today’s web-wired, social media, instant communication world, the caucus is an anachronism.

People are quickly becoming accustomed to not having to physically transport themselves to shop or apply for permits or do anything that traditionally involved standing in line.

The idea that the only way to advance your candidate for president is to show up at a community hall or party member’s living room on a Saturday morning in the spring is a tough sell.

To put that in context, Washington state does not even require voters to go to a specific voting location on Election Day. Elections are all mail-in ballots that people get to contemplate and return over a 2 1/2 week span.

According to the AP article, both a survey and the totals from the 2016 election show that Democrats prefer the shift. A survey of 13,000 people found 93 percent supported the hybrid primary system. In 2016, 230,000 Democrats participated in caucuses while 1.4 million cast ballots in a primary that they knew the party would not consider.

It was no longer a question of whether the causes were the best way to go. Democrat voters were speaking clearly that the primary was the preferred form of participation.

The delegates sent to the convention will be selected at caucuses which will provide opportunity for the traditional discussion and debate.

This move by the state Democratic Party coupled with the state’s decision to move Washington’s primary from May to the second Tuesday in March greatly enhances the role state voters will play in selecting the nominees for president. Obviously, this election cycle the competition will be on the Democratic side, but the reverse was true in 2016. This change will benefit people of all or any political affiliation moving forward.

It is hard to know who the campaigns will play out for the 2020 election, but these changes increase the chances and candidates visiting the state and improve the ability of voters to select their choice for the highest office in the land.


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