- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Donald Trump handily won Washington state’s Republican presidential primary Tuesday, even as he shared the ballot with three other candidates who had already dropped out of the contest.

As counties started posting their results shortly after 8 p.m., Trump took a commanding lead with 76 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich and Ted Cruz, with 10 percent each. Ben Carson garnered 4 percent of the vote in early returns.

Even though Trump is the only candidate remaining in the GOP contest, Kasich and Cruz were still on the ballot because they suspended their campaigns after the ballots were printed. Carson’s name also appeared because he never submitted a withdrawal of candidacy.

Republicans in Washington state will allocate all 44 delegates to their national convention based on the primary results.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders. She was winning 54 percent to 46 percent in early returns; however the results don’t affect the allocation of delegates.

Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system, but Democrats will ignore the primary results, having chosen to keep using the party caucus system to allocate their delegates. Sanders handily won the Democratic caucuses in March. Following the congressional district caucuses over the weekend, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said 74 delegates will go to Sanders and 27 to Clinton.

About 1.3 million voters had already sent in their ballots prior to Tuesday’s election. Election officials said that as of Tuesday evening, 31 percent of voters have returned their ballot. There are more than 4 million registered voters in Washington state, who can either vote by mail or by dropping their ballot at an election drop box.

The record number of presidential primary ballots counted in Washington was nearly 1.4 million in 2008, according to the secretary of state’s office. The record percentage return was 42.6 in 2000. Both of those elections were held in February. Under state law, the presidential primary is held on the fourth Tuesday of May, unless the parties agree to change it, which they did in both of those years.

Last year, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman pushed to have this year’s primary moved to March, but the move, opposed by Democrats, failed to get the two-thirds vote required by the Presidential Primary Date Selection Committee.

The inevitability of the Republican race doesn’t sit well with some voters who say they are not ready to support Trump.

Daniel Emborg said Tuesday he voted for Cruz. Emborg, who was depositing his ballot at a drop box in Everett, said if Trump is the GOP nominee, he will vote for a third-party candidate.

However, Tom Lasswell said he voted for Trump because “you need to instigate change.”

“I like Ted Cruz, but I believe Donald Trump can pull this together, and I’m willing to give him a chance,” he said.

Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, said even though the Democratic primary is nothing more than a poll, there’s still value for the campaign that prevails.

“They’re going to tout this as the will of the people,” he said.

State Republicans will send 44 delegates to the July national convention in Cleveland. Thirty will be allocated proportionally based on candidate percentages in the congressional districts - three delegates from each of the 10 districts.

Fourteen at-large delegates, which include three Republican National Committee members, will be allocated according to the statewide primary votes. Those delegates are allocated proportionally to candidates with at least 20 percent of the statewide vote.

The delegates were chosen over the weekend at the state Republican convention. Of the 41 elected delegates, 40 were Cruz supporters. However, under party rules, each delegate is bound to the primary results for the first round of voting at the national convention.

___

Associated Press writer Manuel Valdes in Everett contributed to this report.

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