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State's top two primary upheld

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court has upheld Washington state's voter-approved top two primary.

That's according to information released yesterday, Thursday, by Secretary of State Sam Reed's office.

The court rejected the challenge brought by the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties against Reed, the state's chief elections officer, and the state Grange, which sponsored the citizen initiative that created the top two primary after the parties successfully challenged the time-honored "blanket primary."

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling in 2008, upheld the state primary's constitutionality, saying it does not violate the parties' First Amendment right of association.

The parties have been pursuing a second round of challenges, based on how the state of Washington is applying the system. U.S. District Judge John Coughenour dismissed that challenge a year ago, saying the parties have failed to prove any fatal flaws in the top two, including the possibility of widespread confusion among voters. Yesterday that decision was upheld by the Circuit Court.

That means the top two primary will be used by the state to run the 2012 primary on Aug. 7, including races for governor and other statewide offices, U.S. Senate, 10 newly redrawn congressional districts, the Legislature, the judiciary and other offices.

"We are delighted. Once again, the courts have made clear that our top two process is legal and is being administered in a clear and thoughtful fashion," Reed said in response to yesterday's outcome. "The opinion keeps the voter in the driver's seat."

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