Washington Elections

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Are Voter ID Laws Dead? That Depends.
09/29/16 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 00:00
Excerpt: 

[A]fter eight years of litigation and study, the evidence of in-person voter fraud is still scant. The courts in Texas and North Carolina held that even if lawmakers were concerned about voter fraud, the laws they enacted were not tailored to fight it effectively. The courts ruled that the forms of ID lawmakers chose as acceptable weren’t necessarily the most secure kinds, and noted that legislators opted not to include other forms of state-issued identification, such as student or public assistance IDs, that were just as secure. ...

For now, though, it appears that people who turn up to the polls in North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and many other voter ID states won’t be turned away if they don’t have an ID on them. They will be able to cast a provisional ballot or sign an affidavit attesting to who they are. This situation does not satisfy either side in the larger dispute, but at the moment it appears to be the national norm. That is, of course, until and unless the Supreme Court steps in.

DMV gives wrong information on Wisconsin voter ID
09/29/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 15:30
Excerpt: 

State officials told a judge last week they had trained workers to make sure people could easily get IDs for voting, but an audio recording was released Thursday of Division of Motor Vehicles employees telling a man he couldn’t get one quickly because he didn’t have a birth certificate with him. ...

The recordings were made Sept. 22, the same day Attorney General Brad Schimel filed court documents claiming DMV “field staff are now trained to ensure that anyone who fills out these forms will receive a photo ID, mailed to them within six days of their application,” even if they don’t have a birth certificate.

The Nation first reported on the recording, which was made by Molly McGrath, the national campaign coordinator with VoteRiders, a group opposed to voter ID laws that helps people get IDs.

McGrath, who also provided a copy of the recording to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said her group visited 10 DMV stations around Wisconsin. DMV employees gave the visitors answers “all over the board” regarding how long it would take to get an ID, she said.

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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 voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

Washington Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

Congressional/State Primary: Tuesday, August 2

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, July 25

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Online or by mail by October 10 or in person by October 31

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

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


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

2016 Election Information for your state