Washington Elections

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Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference: Saturday, March 26 (Democrats--caucus)

                                           Tuesday, May 24 (Republicans--primary)

Please note caucuses have specific rules. Contact your state party for more information.

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

Visit your county website or the Washington State Secretary of State website for more information.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Voting Rights

News

She’s 86. She can’t get a photo ID. Look at the voter fraud we’ve prevented
02/11/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 17:30
Excerpt: 

Reba Bowser is...86 years old. She’s a staunch Republican. She’s been a faithful voter since the Eisenhower administration, missing only the most recent election after moving from New Hampshire to western North Carolina to be close to her son’s family. ...

On Monday, [Reba and her son, Ed,] went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in [North Carolina]. There, they laid out all of Reba’s paperwork for a DMV official – her birth record from Pennsylvania, her Social Security card, the New Hampshire driver’s license she let expire because she no longer wanted to drive.

But there was a problem. When Reba got married in 1950, she had her name legally changed. Like millions upon millions of women, she swapped out her middle name for her maiden name.

That name – Reba Miller Bowser – didn’t match the name on her birth record. A DMV computer flagged the discrepancy. Her photo ID application was rejected. ...

There’s good reason for Reba’s confusion. Her name had never been an issue before this week. Not when she applied for driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Not when she’s flown on airplanes and traveled to other countries. ...

But now, Ed says: “I’m thinking how this affected an 86-year-old woman with limited transportation and resources. You think about extending that to poor communities and minority communities.”

Republicans champion voter ID laws absent credible evidence of fraud
02/10/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 05:00
Excerpt: 

“When voter fraud occurs it should be taken very seriously … and we should have the mechanisms to make sure that it doesn’t happen,” said [Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center for Justice]. “But cases where people are in a position to exploit the system are much more common than some random person pretending to be someone else.” An analysis of election fraud by the journalism studies program News21 found that more than half of all fraud convictions between 2000 and 2012 involved either election officials, campaign workers or voting registration organizations. Just 1 in 207 fraud accusations involved voter impersonation, the only type of fraud that voter ID laws prevent. “If [voter ID advocates] were really concerned about fraud there’s a bunch of other things they could do,” Perez added “Our voting machines are vulnerable. We’re asking people to vote on machines that are the equivalent of old-school flip phones. Our registration rolls are a mess.” ...

For many of...eligible voters, getting a valid ID is not a simple process. “For one, those without a driver’s license don’t have a car,” said Kathleen Unger, president of VoteRiders, a non-profit group that helps voters obtain valid IDs. “So they’re not able to just drive down to the DMV to get a license.” And while states do offer the option of a free voter ID card Unger says, “In many cases there can be a cost associated with getting a ‘free ID’. Obtaining a copy of a birth certificate or a change of name document not only costs money but requires a trip to another agency. With these laws there are so many people who just won’t vote.”

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

Learn More

Helpful Election Information

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference: Saturday, March 26 (Democrats--caucus)

                                           Tuesday, May 24 (Republicans--primary)

Please note caucuses have specific rules. Contact your state party for more information.

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

Visit your county website or the Washington State Secretary of State website for more information.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Washington elections are all vote by mail. Return your ballot through the U.S. Postal Service, using a first class stamp, or at a ballot drop box.  The deadline to return ballots is Election Day.  Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day or in a ballot drop box by 8:00 p.m. on that day.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Check online.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Registration Deadlines

Voters must register at least 30 days before an election.

How to Check if You Are Registered

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Check online.

How to Register

Online

Eligible citizens with a WA driver license or ID can register to vote online on the Washington State MyVote website.

In-Person or by Mail

You are able to register in person at your county elections department or by printing a voter registration form and mailing it to your county elections department.  You do not need a WA driver license in order to register through these methods.  You are able to use the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Registration Eligibility

In order to register to vote, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States;
  • A legal resident of Washington State;
  • At least 18 years old by Election Day;
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order; and
  • Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.

Identification Required for Registration

If you register by mail, you will need to provide the number of your Washington state driver's license or  Washington state ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you have none of those forms of ID, you will be required to register in person by providing one of the following documents:

  • Valid photo ID;
  • Valid tribal ID of a federally recognized Indian tribe in Washington state;
  • Copy of a current utility bill;
  • Current bank statement;
  • Copy of a current government check;
  • Copy of a current paycheck; and
  • A government document that shows both your name and address.

If You Want to Vote Early

Washington has a vote by mail system, so the state will mail you a ballot 18 days prior to an election.  You can also print out a replacement ballot online.  Voters can return their ballot through the U.S. Postal Service, using a first class stamp, or at a ballot drop box.  You can find ballot drop box locations online or by calling your county elections department for ballot drop box locations.

Ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, returned to a designated ballot drop box by 8 pm on Election Day, or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 pm on Election Day.  

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Washington has a vote by mail system, so any registered voter may vote absentee by using this system as described above. 

Identification Requirements to Register to Vote

If you register by mail, you will need to provide the number of your Washington state driver's license or Washington state ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you have none of those forms of ID, you will be required to register in person by providing one of the following documents:

  • Valid photo ID;
  • Valid tribal ID of a federally recognized Indian tribe in Washington state;
  • Copy of a current utility bill;
  • Current bank statement;
  • Copy of a current government check;
  • Copy of a current paycheck; or
  • A government document that shows both your name and address. 

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Washington State is a mail-in ballot state and does not require any form of identification to be turned in with your ballot.  Your ballot is mailed to you at least 18 days before each election.  To receive your ballot, your voter registration mailing address must be current.  Your ballot packet will include a ballot, a secrecy envelope, and a return envelope.  Follow the instructions that accompany your ballot.  If you need a replacement ballot, contact your county elections department or go online.

Your voter registration record should contain your current name or address.  You can use Washington's online voter registration tool to let your County Elections Department know when you move or change your name. 

You must re-register or transfer your registration at least 30 days before the election to be eligible to vote in your new precinct.

If you are registered to vote but miss the deadline to update your address, you can still vote.  Contact your county elections department where you are currently registered to request a ballot.

Registrations and updates submitted after the deadline will take effect for the next election.

Read more here.

Military and overseas voters can register to vote online, via mail, or in person, and are exempt from the regular voter registration deadlines.  The last day to register and request a ballot is Election Day.  If you are not registered, you may still vote and send in a ballot because the signature on the ballot constitutes registration.

Military and overseas citizens can also use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) Washington-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA.  Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP's Washington-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 7:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Washington page to download the form.

If you have been convicted of a felony in WA, another state, or in federal court, you are eligible to vote once your civil rights have been restored.  Once your right is restored, you must re-register to vote in order to receive a ballot.  Read more online.

**The materials below have not been updated since 2014**

FAQ

Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the Washington Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights