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AARP AARP States Washington Voters

How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in Washington

En español | Washington is a vote-by-mail state. If you’re a registered voter, you’ll automatically get a ballot in the mail before each election, but voting early in person is also an option.

The 2022 midterms decided races for the U.S. House and Senate, the state House and Senate and several statewide offices. Washington will hold state appellate judge and local elections in 2023.

Essential info:

  • Voting by mail: All registered voters are automatically sent a mail-in ballot for each election, so they can vote from home. 
  • Early in-person voting: Washington offers this option starting 18 days before an election.

  • Voting at the polls: Voters who are already registered do not need to show an ID to vote in person on Election Day.

Have there been any recent changes to voting in Washington?

A redistricting plan changed the boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect which candidates appear on your ballot.

How do I register to vote?

  • Online: Use the state’s VoteWA portal. You’ll need a current Washington state driver's license, permit or ID card. If you don’t have one of these, you may still register by mail or in person.
  • In person: Visit your county’s election department during normal business hours or anytime before 8 p.m. on Election Day. You can also register in person at the Department of Licensing or during voter registration drives in your area.

Online and mail registrations must be received eight days before an election, but you can register in person until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Check or update your registration at VoteWA.

Does my party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries? 

Not in Washington, unless it’s a presidential primary. For congressional and statewide races, Washington uses a top-two primary system, whereby all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of their party.

How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?

County election offices mail ballots to all registered voters no later than 18 days before an election (or up to 45 days before an election for military and overseas voters). Contact your county’s elections department if you don’t receive one.

Woman Deposits Absentee Mail-In Voters Ballot
A voter deposits a ballot into an official drop box in Washington
RyanJLane/Getty Images

If you’ll be away during the election period, or if you’ve moved, contact your county’s elections department to update your mailing address.

How do I return my mail ballot during an election?

  • By mail: Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day. If mailing your ballot within a week of an election, be mindful of mailbox collection times — a late postmark could disqualify your ballot.
  • Via drop box: Your ballot must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Log in to VoteWA for a map of drop boxes and voting centers in your area.

If your original ballot is destroyed, damaged, lost or not received, request a new one online by logging in to VoteWA or contacting your county’s election department. Replacement ballots may be sent via mail or electronically, picked up at your county’s election office or printed from an online application. If you request a new ballot, it will supersede any previously issued ballot.

Can I track my mail-in ballot?

Yes. Log in to the VoteWA site and select Ballot Status. Allow up to five business days for your ballot to be posted as received.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Yes, at voting centers in each county during regular business hours, which may vary. In-person voting begins 18 days before an election. Contact your county’s elections department for details or locate your nearest voting center by logging in to VoteWA.

What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?

Log in to VoteWA for a map of drop boxes and voting centers in your area. Check with your county’s election department to confirm voting hours. 

Do I need identification to vote?

Not if you are already registered. To verify your identity, election officials will compare the signature on your ballot declaration against the signature collected when you registered to vote.

If you are registering to vote on Election Day, you will need to provide a current Washington state driver's license, permit or ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Nov. 30, 2022, with information about how to vote in Washington.

Also of Interest:

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