The Democratic and Libertarian parties are asking the US Supreme Court to toss Washington State's "top two" primary, under which the top two candidates in primary races move forward to the general election regardless of party. In practice, this means that in liberal districts, two Democrats face off in general elections, and in conservative districts, two Republicans face off. The parties oppose the top-two system because it does not allow them to choose a preferred candidate, because it allows anyone to use their party label, and because it means that they may not have a candidate representing their party in general elections.

The case against the top two primary has been winding its way through the courts for years. Both the U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected arguments by the Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians that the top-two primary violates their constitutional rights.

The top-two primary easily survived an earlier challenge at the Supreme Court, which ruled that it was constitutional on a 7-2 vote but left open the possibility of a later challenge.

In a statement, secretary of state Sam Reed said, “Our system, which is a model for other states, really honors the way Washingtonians want to vote — for the person, not the party label. It really fits our populist, independent streak and allows people to split their ticket, rather than be confined to one party’s candidates."

The state still plans to use the top-two system in the August 7 primary, according to the AP.
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