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Relax — Washington is now a same-day voter registration state

Washington’s voter registration methods have changed, providing new options for citizens.

Under a new law this year, Washington became one of 21 states, and the District of Columbia, which allow same day voter registration. Under previous rules, voters had to register either 29 days before the election if by mail or online, or eight days before in person.

Now, in person registration is still available up to and including election day, Aug. 6. Voters who want to register in person technically don’t have to bring anything with them, said Halei Watkins, of King County Elections.

People will need to fill out a form which includes a space for either their Washington Driver’s License number, state ID number, or the last four digits of the Social Security Number. While the prospective voter will not be asked to present the identification, elections officials do perform checks. When they input the data, they ensure that the information matches information in other databases.

“We verify it all matches up on the back end,” Watkins said.

In-person registration is available at the King County Elections Annex in Seattle, the main elections office in Renton, or at satellite offices in Federal Way, Kenmore and Bellevue. Office hours vary by location, though on Election Day, all of them will remain open until 8 p.m.

Voters must be U.S. Citizens, residents of Washington State, 18 years old, and not disqualified to vote as a result of a court order or under supervision for a felony conviction.

For teens who like to plan ahead, Washington now allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. They won’t actually be able to vote until they turn 18. But they can go through the process once they have a driver’s license or Washington ID card. Once they turn 18, ballots will be sent out to their address along with all the other adults.

At this point, all registered voters should have received their ballot. There had been some hiccups over the past couple months as the state implemented a new voter registration system, but those issues have been resolved, said Watkins. Still, sometimes some ballots do go missing. If you have not received your ballot, go to King County Elections for instructions on getting a replacement.

King County Elections is projecting a 36% turnout this year, Watkins said. Turnout in 2017 was 27%, Watkins said. Turnout in odd-numbered years is typically low, owing to a lack of higher profile federal races.

This year’s primary is hotly contested, with more than 50 candidates filing for seven City Council seats that will be on the November ballot. The top two finishers in each of the races will move on to the general election in November. Capitol Hill sits in District 3, which also covers the Central District and other surrounding neighborhoods. It has drawn an outsized amount of attention and spending.

If you’re still trying to decide who to vote for in the primary, well, we won’t tell you who: We don’t do endorsements. But we do have a handy questionnaire filled out by all of the candidates, so you can make up your own mind. Or fill out our completely unscientific poll to say who you’re voting for, and who you think will win.

Election day is Aug. 6. Ballots must either be placed in the mail (no stamp required) or a drop box by then. Drop boxes, which close at 8 p.m. Election Day, are located at Seattle Central Community College on Broadway and at the Garfield Community Center at 23rd Avenue and Cherry Street, along with dozens of other locations around the county.

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