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Voting & Elections Toolkits

Voter Registration in Washington

Eligibility

  • Age: At least 16 and turning 18 before Election Day
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals: Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Residence: A legal resident of Washington State
  • College students can either vote absentee in their home state or register to vote in WA if they have lived in WA for at least 30 days and have established a residential address in WA.
  • Check to see if you are already registered: https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx

More information: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/voter-eligibility.aspx

Deadline

Online registration

To use the online voter registration system you will need a current Washington State driver's license, permit or ID card. If you do not have any of these, you may still register by mail or in person.

Online registration portal: https://olvr.votewa.gov/

Mail-in registration

Printable forms in a variety of languages: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/print-voter-registration-forms.aspx               

Updating registration      

To update registration after a move or name change use the voter registration form. https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/print-voter-registration-forms.aspx

Cancelling registration

You may voluntarily cancel your Washington State voter registration by completing this form and returning it to your county elections department: https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/vr_cancellation_form_en.pdf

ID Requirements for Washington Voters

ID Requirements for Registration

Online Registration

To use the online voter registration system you will need a current Washington State driver's license, permit or ID card. If you do not have any of these, you may still register by mail or in person.

Online registration portal: https://olvr.votewa.gov/

Mail-in Registration

An ID is not required for mail-in registration, but you must provide one of the documents listed on the form to verify residence:

  • Driver’s license number, OR
  • Last four digits of Social Security number

Mail-in Registration: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/print-voter-registration-forms.aspx

ID Requirements for Voting

Washington State is a vote-by-mail state, so refer to the ID requirements on the "Registration" tab.

Casting a Ballot in Washington

Important Dates

Absentee voting

Washington State is a vote-by-mail state and you can vote in Washington State even if you are away from home during an election. Make sure you update your mailing address with your county elections department in order to receive your ballot at the correct address. Although your mailing address can be anywhere in the world, your residential address must remain in Washington State.

To apply for a Special Absentee Ballot, submit this form: https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/specialabsenteeballotapp.pdf.

Polling places and hours

  • Washington State is a vote-by-mail state.
  • Ballot are mailed at least 18 days before each election.
  • Your ballot must be postmarked no later than Election Day or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 pm on Election Day.
  • Each county does open an in-person voting center prior to each election. These voting centers are open during business hours during the voting period (which starts 18 days prior to election day). You can locate your nearest voting center by logging into MyVote.wa.gov.

Rides to the polls

Washington is a vote-by-mail state.

Help for disabled voters

Elections

Primaries vs. general elections

  • Voters in Washington State do not declare a political party when they register.
  • Washington State is a "Top 2 Primary" state, which means:
    • Voters can vote for any candidate (regardless of political party) running in each primary race.
    • The two candidates who receive the most votes in the Primary Election qualify for the General Election.
  • Candidates can declare a preference for a certain party and that preference will appear besides their name on ballots.

Jurisdiction

Offices/Measures That May Appear on the Ballot

Federal (even years)

President/Vice-President (elected every four years; next election in 2020)

Senator (elected every six years for staggered terms)

Representative (elected every two years)

State Executive Officers (elected every four years)

Governor

Lieutenant Governor

Secretary of State

Treasurer

Auditor

Attorney General

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Commissioner of Public Lands

Insurance Commissioner

State Legislative Office

State Senator (4 year terms)

State Representative (2 year terms)

State Judicial Office

State Supreme Court justice (6 year terms)

State Court of Appeals judge (6 year terms)

State Superior Court judge (4 year terms)

Who are the candidates, and what else is on the ballot?

Important Dates

 

Who conducts elections?

Voter Bill of Rights

 

Where to go with complaints about candidates or how elections are conducted

Any person who believes that a violation of Title III of the federal Help America Vote Act has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur may file a complaint with the Office of the Secretary of State: https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/hava%20complaint%20form_en%202015.pdf

Campaign finance

Washington State's Public Disclosure Commission provides public access to information about the financing of state political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates. 

How to contact your elected officials:

Find your elected State representatives: https://app.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/

And U.S. representatives: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/WA

General Resources on Voting and Elections

General Resources on Voting and Elections


Hotlines


1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)

1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)


Voter Registration & Election Day Resources

Find useful voter information including:

  • Local Election Office and Contact Information
  • Address, Telephone and Email for Local Election Offices
  • Upcoming Federal Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Upcoming State Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Identification Requirements
  • Voter Materials Transmission Options
  • State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered? Where’s my Ballot?

Population-Specific information and Resources

Voting Rights: Laws, Cases, Policy

Voter Engagement

Voter Education

Campaign Finance/Funding Information

Primary Sources, Lesson Plans & Exhibits

Disclaimer

Librarians from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), a Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA), created these reference guides. These guides are intended for informational purposes only and are not in any way intended to be legal advice.

These guides are designated with a Creative Commons license and re-use and modification for educational purposes is encouraged.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.