Change can be hard: Washington‘s Sept. 14 primary will be the first time in about 70 years that the state will require an individual voter to vote only for the candidates in one party. The new primary system has touched off many complaints from voters. But Lance LeLoup, the Claudius O. and Mary W. Johnson Distinguished Professor of political science at Washington State University and co-editor of the book “Washington State Government and Politics” (WSU Press, 2004), says that it is about time Washington joined the rest of the country in the way it runs its primary elections. LeLoup believes that the new election rules will not prove too confusing for voters and that some of the resistance to the new primary simply results from people’s reluctance to change. LeLoup can be reached at 509.335.8929 or leloup@wsu.edu .

System still offers choice, privacy: While many voters are confused or upset about Washington’s new open primary system, the new system still affords Washington voters much more choice than voters in states with closed primaries, which limit primary participation to people who have registered with a political party. Washington State University assistant professor in political science Travis Ridout also points out that the system protects their privacy — which party’s ballot a voter chooses will never be known publicly. The new primary results from a Supreme Court ruling outlawing the blanket primary.  Ridout said that, in effect, the Supreme Court ruled that parties are quasi-private organizations that have at least some right to make their own rules.  Just as the Catholic church doesn’t let Methodists vote for pope, the parties can restrict their primary elections to those who, at least for one moment in the polling booth, identify with that party. Ridout can be reached at 509.335.2264 or tnridout@wsu.edu.