Voter Registrations in Washington
Washington State offers a simple, four-pronged system for helping interested citizens register to vote and make the most of their electoral privileges. While there are multiple ways to complete voter registration in Washington, the balloting process is more streamlined than other states and handled nearly exclusively by mail.
The Washington Secretary of State makes its online portal quick and easy to use in an effort to encourage all eligible citizens in the state to become registered voters. While it is not a legal mandate for a resident to attain a voter registration card, failure to do so can exclude citizens from important decision-making and political policy procedures that may affect their day-to-day lives.
Who can register to vote in Washington?
The state of Washington encourages all eligible citizens to register to vote and exercise their full privileges in the electoral process. Voter registration in Washington is contingent on an applicant’s compliance with the following mandatory criteria:
- United States citizen
- Legal resident of Washington
- Minimum of eighteen years of age on or before the election date
- Not prevented from voting via court order
- Not presently under supervision by the Washington Department of Corrections for a felony offense
Voting registration in Washington is fully extended to citizens who have completed their judicial sentences for felony offenses or had their previously limited capacities officially reinstated by a court order.
What does the voter registration process entail in Washington?
You can register to vote in Washington in one of four separate ways. Washington voter registration can be completed online through the Secretary of State’s MyVote portal, by printing the application form and sending it back via regular mail, by requesting an application form through an official voter drive or by completing an application in person at your local county elections department.
Government-based health agencies, departments providing social services, public libraries and military recruitment centers also provide registration applications in Washington. Registering online requires a valid Washington driver’s license or state ID. The application form will ask for basic personal information such as a Washington residential address and birth date.
You must sign the declaration box and can return the form in person or by mail to your local elections department. The voter registration deadline in Washington is typically the Monday four weeks before the election date.
Does Washington issue a voter registration card?
A voter registration card is issued in Washington upon completion of the official registration process. Registration cards in Washington can also be printed directly from the MyVote portal if duplicate copies are needed, or you can request them your local elections department if lost or stolen.
Having the registration card on your person is not mandatory for you to be able to vote on election day, but serves as a helpful tool to remind you of your polling place and registered address information. Your voter registration card also functions as your legal proof that you are a legitimate Washington voter.
Where do I find out how to register to vote via absentee or early voting ballot in Washington?
Registering to vote in Washington State comes attendant with the unique policy of conducting all voting by mail. No matter how you completed your voter registration in Washington, your ballot will be submitted via the general postal service and processed at the county elections department.
For all intents and purposes, Washington State votes entirely by what would be known in other states as “absentee” voting. This eliminates the question of, “Where do I vote in Washington?” and allows for the greater inclusion and organization of multiple kinds of voters.
Ballots are mailed to constituents a minimum of eighteen days prior to an election and come in sealed packets that include instructions, a secrecy envelope and a return envelope. Contact your county elections department if you do not receive your ballot in a timely manner prior to the election of interest.
Am I registered to vote in Washington elections if I am active-duty military or working overseas?
“Where do I vote if I am a Washington citizen stationed abroad with the military?” Washington State makes this common voter registration concern shared by many uniformed personnel an unnecessary worry by making special voter provisions for uniformed personnel. Washington military members and their eligible family are exempt from registration deadlines and may vote at any time all the way up to Election Day simply by submitting a ballot.
Their signature on the declaration serves as both their registration and their vote. When registering to vote in Washington as a military member, you may list your mailing address as anywhere in the world so long as you list a valid Washington address as your residence.
It is permissible to use the address of a family member for this residency requirement. Military personnel seeking to register to vote may receive and return their ballots by email, mail or fax up to ninety days prior to the election of interest by contacting the local county elections department. If for any reason you do not feel that you will receive your absentee voter registration ballot in time, you also have the right to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), a blank write-in ballot, available at embassies and consulates.
If sent by regular mail, your ballot must be postmarked by the official Election Day and must be received by the county elections department within thirteen days after a primary or special election and within twenty days after a general election. If you send your absentee voting registration by email or fax, it must arrive no later than 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Election Day. Emailed ballots must scan the signed and dated declaration page, privacy sheet and ballot as attachments.
How do I change voter registration information in Washington?
You can change voter registration address information in Washington utilizing the same application form with which you originally registered to vote. There is a voter registration change of address section specifically for this purpose on the official voting application in Washington. You can also update address and name change information utilizing the online registration portal.
If your change of address is not updated by the established registration date but you are previously registered to vote at your former Washington precinct address, you can still vote by contacting your county elections department and requesting a ballot. Your change of voter registration address will take effect for the next election. Remember that you should also change your address on your other documents, such as your drivers license.