Someday soon, the sun may set on the precinct committee officer in Washington State. Stemming from various lawsuits connected to primary elections, the PCO seems to be an endangered species. The two major parties are suing the save the PCO-as-is.

So, it seems like a good time to start reviewing where exactly the PCO came from and how it has evolved in Washington State.

First, I want to explore the evolution of the PCO from creation to today. At minimum, I want to track the interest in the PCO position by looking at historic election results. The data I’ll look at is the only historic archive of county level election results I could find from a major Puget Sound county.

Snohomish County election results, 1892 to present

I’ll use this spreadsheet to parse out the PCO results by the number of people who filed compared to the total number of PCO positions and also the number of races that had more than one candidate (so were actually competitive). I suspect we’ll find a steady decline in participation and interest in PCO elections between 1908 and today. Feel free to dive right into the data and help out.

Secondly, I want to track the origin of the PCO in policy. So far, I’ve come up with this speech which explains the impact and origin of the “direct primary” in Washington State. The creation of the direct primary was a direct cause of the PCO, so I hope it’ll help out.

I have my own history with the PCO position. Here’s a peak at how I actually feel about the PCO. One blog post from 2007 where I blast the PCO as “undemocratic” (Undemocratic nature of PCO elections and how it could impact the state central committee). Also, an archive of posts from earlier in the year in chronicling an effort I helped with to create a membership-based county Democratic organization (Olympia Time: PCO label). Some might say I wanted to dilute the power of the PCO, and some might be right.