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What is a Top 2 Primary election?

Approved by voters in 2004, the Top 2 Primary allows voters to choose all candidates running for office, despite party affiliation.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Top 2 Primary in Washington state applies to elections for partisan statewide offices such as governor and partisan county offices, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and the state Legislature.

The two candidates who receive the most votes during the Primary Election qualify for the General Election. 

Candidates may state a political party preference, though that does not imply the candidate is nominated or endorsed by that party.

It's possible that both candidates who advance to the General Election prefer the same party.

The Top 2 Primary does not apply to elections for president and vice president, nonpartisan offices such as fire district, or precinct committee officers. Nonpartisan offices have similar primary systems that reduces the number of candidates down to two.

The Top 2 Primary was approved by Washington voters by nearly 60% in 2004 as Initiative 872. The system was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008 and used during the 2008 primary.

Click here to learn more about the Top 2 Primary from the Washington Secretary of State.

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