Voter Eligibility

Washington State encourages every eligible person to register to vote and participate fully in all elections. Each of us is responsible for protecting the integrity of the electoral process by providing equal access, and guarding against fraud and discrimination.

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.

Citizenship

You must be a citizen of the United States. If you have questions about citizenship, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Residency requirements

To register to vote in Washington State, you must be a resident of the state.

You must establish your voting residency address at least 30 days before Election Day. You may specify a mailing address that is different from your residential address.

You may only be registered to vote at one location, even if you own multiple residences. If you move or are temporarily away, you may maintain your voter registration at that address until you register to vote elsewhere.

If you have a nontraditional address, such as a motor home or transitional housing, your voting residence is the physical location at the time you register to vote. You may list a different address for your mailing address.

If you are a United States citizen living abroad, you may use your last Washington address. If you have never lived in the country, you may use the last address of your parents or other family member.

Even if you are living outside of Washington State, you will retain your residency if you are:

 

  • employees in the civil or military service of the state or of the United States;
  • living overseas;
  • attending college or any institution of learning; or
  • confined in any public prison.
You may maintain your voter registration in Washington State until you register to vote elsewhere.

 

For more information about voting residence, see Article VI, Sections 1 and 4 of the Washington State Constitution, RCW 29A.04.151, and RCW 29A.08.112.

Felons and Voting Rights

If you were convicted of a felony in Washington State, your right to vote is restored as long as you are not under the authority (in prison or on community custody) of the Department of Corrections (DOC). Once your right is restored, you must re-register to vote in order to receive a ballot.

If you have questions about your status with DOC, you can call (800) 430-9674.

Restoring your right to vote

  • If you were convicted of a felony in a Washington State court, your right to vote is restored unless you are currently under the authority of DOC (in prison or on community custody). If you have questions about whether you are on community custody, call DOC at (800) 430-9674.
  • If you were convicted of a felony in another state or in federal court, your right to vote is restored as long as you are not currently incarcerated for that felony.
  • Once your right to vote is restored, you must re-register in order to receive a ballot. You can re-register online with MyVote, by mail, or in person.
  • You do not lose the right to vote for a misdemeanor conviction or a conviction in juvenile court.

Three times a year, the Secretary of State uses information provided by DOC and the state court system to screen the list of registered voters for ineligible felons. If you are registered to vote, but are ineligible because of a felony conviction, you will be sent a letter explaining that your registration will be cancelled in 30 days.The letter provides information on how to dispute the cancellation (RCW 29A.08.520).

Mental competency and voting rights

Only a Superior Court can declare a person unable to vote due to mental incompetency and therefore unable to vote. Do not assume that a person under a guardianship due to their mental capacity is ineligible to vote.

A guardian may not vote on behalf of a person under guardianship, and power of attorney does not extend to voting.

Whether a person under guardianship may vote depends on when the guardianship was imposed and whether the guardianship is full or partial.

  • If full guardianship was imposed before July 24, 2005, the person is not eligible to vote unless the court order specifically states otherwise.
  • If partial guardianship was imposed before July 24, 2005, the person retains the right to vote unless the court order specifically states otherwise.
  • If full or partial guardianship was imposed on or after July 24, 2005, the person retains the right to vote unless the court order specifically states otherwise.

For more information, see Article VI, Section 3 of the Washington State Constitution, RCW 11.88.010(5), or Washington Law Help.