Blanket primary

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The blanket primary is a system used for selecting candidates in a primary election in the United States. In a blanket primary, voters may pick one candidate for each office without regard to party lines. In the traditional blanket primary the candidates with the highest number of votes for each office in each party advance to the general election, as the respective party's nominee.

Compared to other primary systems, the blanket primary is less restrictive for voters because it does not limit them to selecting from only one party's candidates. Mainstream political parties, however, many see this as a disadvantage because it discourages party loyalty, especially among moderate voters who do not identify strongly with either party. The system also has potential for tactical voting; voters opposed to one party might disingenuously choose a weaker candidate from that party, setting the candidate up to lose in the general election.

In 2000 the United States Supreme Court struck down California's blanket primary in California Democratic Party v. Jones. Similar systems used in Washington state and Alaska were also struck down in subsequent Supreme Court cases.

Nonpartisan blanket primary

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After the traditional blanket primary was ruled unconstitutional, California and Washington state implemented the "nonpartisan blanket primary" (also known as the "jungle primary"). In response to the aforementioned Supreme Court decision, Washington state voters passed Initiative 872 in 2004 to adopt the nonpartisan blanket primary.[1] Following the ruling in California Democratic Party v. Jones, lower courts struck down the initiative. However, the Supreme Court ruled on March 18, 2008 in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party et al. that Initiative 872 was at least facially constitutional and could go into effect.[2]



  1. Wikipedia:Initiative 872
  2. "Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party et al" (PDF). March 18, 2008.