The Grange Party Debacle Pt. 1

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Krist Novoselic is a regular contributor to the Daily Weekly.
I am officially running for office, and under the laws of the State of Washington, the ballot will say: Krist Novoselic Prefers Grange Party.

Of course, there is no such thing as a Grange Party. I filed for the office of Wahkiakum County clerk because I want to draw attention to a serious issue with our state's election laws and party labels on ballots.

Do you rely on a party label next to a candidate's name on the ballot to help you vote? I do. And now some voters might be attracted to my candidacy only because of the goodwill generated from the Grange's name next to mine on the ballot.

They could think, "I don't know who this Novoselic is, but I know the Grange gave money to that family whose house caught on fire, and they granted a scholarship to my nephew that helped him travel to his college - I'm going to vote Grange Party."

Grangers want to do community work and not have candidates on the ballot. But who cares what Grange members think? Washington State sure doesn't! Any candidate can drag the Grange, American Legion, Rotary or any other private association on a ballot regardless of how the members of a group feel about it.

On the ballot I have the right to say I prefer the Grange Party. But the Grange can't refute my claim where it matters most - on the same ballot. Sure, the Grange can buy advertising, give interviews and try to rebut me in other media, but the only place a voter is guaranteed to see my claim is on the ballot!

What I'm doing used to be illegal in the United States, until last year when the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion that the prefers party concept, on its face, passed constitutional muster. Thankfully, this system is back in court and judges are looking at it as applied.

Were our laws regarding private association so bad that we needed to change them this radically?

There are very complicated legal arguments with why I can claim to be a Grange Party candidate on the ballot. The State offers a disclaimer that says a candidate might not really be representing a party; they only prefer that party. This is pure legalese, cooked up by lawyers who are trying to skirt associational issues in court by parsing the word prefers.

So a voter sees a party label on the ballot and the state says it might not mean that it's a real label. HUH? This is confusing.

I've got a lot more to say about this and my candidacy. I'll be keeping a running blog so check back soon.

 
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