OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were virtually tied in early statewide returns in Washington’s vote-by-mail presidential primary Tuesday night, but it will take days to receive and tally all the votes.
Of the six states voting Tuesday, Washington — with 89 pledged delegates at stake — offers the second-highest number of delegates to be divvied up, behind Michigan’s 125.
Democrats are using the vote-by-mail presidential primary — moved up this year from May — for the first time to allocate delegates instead of the smaller caucuses used in previous years.
Voters in Washington state are noticing a major change to their ballots for the 2020 Presidential Primary: they’re required to declare a party on the outside of the envelope.
There used to be a privacy flap that hung over the section where voters would declare their party affiliation, but it was removed for the 2016 primaries.
“I’m OK with [the change],” said Clark County’s Treasurer Alishia Topper as a voter in Vancouver. “I’ve heard from others that they’ve had some concern. I figured it’s the primary, you are voting for a candidate in a party system so you should have to indicate. It’s OK with me.”
The 2020 primaries are a stark contrast to the ones held in 2016 for Washingtonians. The state’s GOP primary was virtually meaningless in 2016 as Donald Trump had already secured the nomination by the time it was held. Democrats held their caucuses two months earlier when the contest was down to Sanders and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
In order to give voters throughout the state more say in the process, Washington’s legislature moved the state’s presidential primary to occur the week following Super Tuesday. The Washington ballot lists all 13 Democratic candidates who originally campaigned, but only Biden, Sander and Tulsi Gabbard remain in the race.
This story will continue to be updated throughout the day.
KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.
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