Appeals court: Top 2 primary OK, recall limits not

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld Washington's top-two primary system, but in a separate ruling it struck down the state's $800 limit on contributions to recall campaigns.

Voters adopted the top-two primary system in 2004. Under it, the top two finishers in a primary advance to the general election, even if they're both Democrats or both Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the system, but acknowledged that whether it would continue to pass constitutional muster would depend in part on how the ballots were actually written.

The political parties challenged the system again, saying that allowing candidates to identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats on the ballot could confuse voters, who might believe the candidates are the nominee of a party. A three-judge appeals court panel said Thursday there's no evidence such confusion has occurred.

Another appeals court panel struck down the state's recall campaign limit, saying it violates the free-speech rights of donors.