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News / Politics / Election

WA seeks ‘provisional’ certification to make sure Biden is on the ballot

By Jim Brunner, The Seattle Times
Published: April 16, 2024, 3:46pm

President Joe Biden is scheduled to be nominated for reelection at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.

But Washington law requires presidential candidates to be certified for the November ballot by Aug. 20 this year — a couple of days before Biden’s nomination is expected to be formally voted on at the convention, which runs Aug. 19-22.

Does that mean Biden will get left off the Washington ballot, requiring him to run a write-in campaign or throwing the state to Donald Trump?

No. It does not.

As they’ve done in past years — for both Republicans and Democrats — Washington election officials say they’ll accept a letter from the Democratic National Committee by Aug. 20 attesting that Biden will be the party’s nominee.

In 2020, Washington accepted such provisional certifications on behalf of Trump and Biden from the Republican and Democratic parties, according to Derrick Nunnally, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.

“This is not an unprecedented situation. It has been addressed by the Office of the Secretary of State and both major parties in prior presidential cycles, and the process is underway to fully comply with state law this year in similar fashion,” Nunnally said in an email Friday.

Stuart Holmes, Washington’s director of elections, sent a letter to Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison this week reminding the party of Washington’s deadline and requesting a “provisional certificate of nomination” for Biden no later than Aug. 20.

The Washington ballot deadline isn’t an issue this time around for Republicans, who are scheduled to formally nominate Trump at their convention July 15-18 in Milwaukee.

Earlier this year, a judge in Washington rejected an effort by Kitsap County residents to exclude Trump from the August primary ballot due to his role in stoking the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and attempting to halt the peaceful transfer of power.

Both Trump and Biden easily won the state’s presidential primary on March 12, clinching their parties’ respective nominations.

Washington isn’t alone in having ballot deadlines that conflict with the Democrats’ national convention schedule. Because of 2024’s polarized politics, the seeming nonissue has recently hit the news as another point of conflict.

Republican secretaries of state in Alabama and Ohio recently notified Democrats that Biden might not appear on the ballot in those states because his formal nomination will happen after their deadlines.

Democrats say such conflicts have been resolved in the past with “provisional” certifications or changes in deadlines approved by state lawmakers.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” Biden campaign spokesperson Josh Marcus-Blank said in a statement this week to The Washington Post.