Elections Rulemaking

Rulemaking

When the Washington State Legislature passes a bill that is signed by the Governor, it becomes state law as part of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). To implement the requirements of state law, state agencies may adopt or revise Washington Administrative Code (WAC) to create procedures to implement legal requirements as authorized by state law through the official rulemaking process in accordance with the Washington Administrative Procedure Act (RCW 34.05). WACs adopted by the Office of the Secretary of State can be found in Chapter 434 WAC

How to participate in the rulemaking process:

  • Submit feedback or testimony about proposed WACs to [email protected] or via postal mail to:
    Washington Secretary of State
    Elections Division
    PO Box 40229
    Olympia, WA 98504-0229
  • File a petition for adoption, amendment, or repeal of a WAC using this form.
  • Attend public hearings to provide testimony.

Public Hearing Notice

Public hearings for proposed Washington Administrative Code (WAC) rule amendments will be announced here. You may also find all Washington State Register (WSR) filings submitted by the Office of the Secretary of State by visiting the Office of the Code Reviser’s website. For information on how to provide feedback or attend a public hearing, or to request reasonable accommodation to attend a public hearing, call (360) 902-4180 or email [email protected].

Preproposal of Possible Rulemaking  

This first stage of the rulemaking process notifies the public that a proposed rule change is being considered and the Elections Division's authority for doing so. 

  • CR-101 filed on January 3, 2024 available here
  • CR-101 filed on January 3, 2024 available here
  • CR-101 filed on January 3, 2024 available here
  • CR-101 filed on February 7, 2024 available here.
  • CR-101 filed on June 20, 2024 available here.

To view all Washington State Register (WSR) preproposal filings (PREP) submitted by the Office of the Secretary of State, visit the Office of the Code Reviser's website.

Proposed WAC Amendments - Public Hearings

The second stage is to draft language and set a hearing date. After the proposed language is finalized, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (CR-102) is filed with the Office of the Code Reviser, which schedules a public hearing to hear testimony on the proposed WAC changes. After the hearing, all feedback and testimony are reviewed for potential revisions to the draft WAC language. 

Filed CR-102 forms, proposed WAC amendments, and public hearing information will be posted here.

  • CR-102 filed on July 31, 2023 available here. Withdrawal form filed on December 5, 2023 available here.
  • CR-102 filed on May 21, 2024 available here. Associated CR-101 filed on September 21, 2023 available here.
    • Public Hearing: 10:00 AM, June 25, 2024
      Washington Secretary of State,
      Washington State Library
      6880 Capitol Blvd. SE
      Tumwater, WA 98501
    • Request for accommodation deadline: 5:00 PM, June 24, 2024
    • Pre-submitted public comment deadline: 5:00 PM, June 24, 2024
    • Proposed rules in response to Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5112 (2023) and Senate Bill 5153 (2023):
    • Proposed amendments to this chapter: 
      • Update definitions pertaining to voter registration.
      • Create procedures for automatic voter registration acknowledgment notice packages.
      • Prescribe a new voter registration form. 
      • Correct a citation reference. 
      • Clarify the length of time before an election a primary-only voter or future voter's registration information become publicly available.
    • Hearing minutes

To view all Washington State Register (WSR) proposed rule amendments (PROP) submitted by the Office of the Secretary of State, visit the Office of the Code Reviser's website.


Recent Rulemaking

Following the public hearing, final WAC changes are submitted by filing a CR-103 form with the Office of the Code Reviser for adoption. At least 31 days after they have been adopted, the WACs become effective.

The following WAC amendments were adopted June 5, 2024 and effective July 6: 

These rules update the process and standards for verifying ballot declaration signatures in a manner that reduces and ensures consistency in counties throughout the state. The rules changes are expected to result in fewer mistaken rejections of valid ballots.

  • Proposed amendments to this chapter:
    • Expand and enumerate the requirements to verify a provided signature on a ballot declaration matches the signature provided on a voter registration record.
    • Clarify the process if a County Auditor receives a ballot envelope signed with a different name from what is on the voter registration record.
    • Require the County Auditor to contact voters via four methods in cases of ballot signature mismatches and updates the timeline for phone calls to voters who have not returned a signature cure letter.
    • Require the County Auditor to contact voters via four methods in cases of a ballot declaration signature not matching the signature on the voter registration record for two elections in a row.
    • Amend for the purpose of administrative updates.

Associated CR-102 filed on May 1, 2024 available here. Associated CR-101 filed on July 31, 2023 available here.     

Previous Rulemaking

    The following WAC amendments were adopted March 8, 2024 and effective May 4: 

These rules expand and enumerate the requirements to verify a provided signature on a ballot declaration matches the signature provided on a voter registration record and update the signature cure process.


The following WAC amendments were adopted February 7, 2024 and effective March 9:

These rules institute random assignment of initiative numbers and update the filing fee. The filing fee has been unchanged since 1913 and will be updated using the rate of inflation. Changing the number assignment system will clarify the difference between the two types of initiatives, year of filing, and employ a randomly assigned number.


The following WAC amendments were adopted January 10, 2024 and effective February 10: 

These rules update election administration processes in accordance with legislative amendments and ensure consistency in operations in all county elections offices.


The following WAC amendments were adopted September 27, 2023 and effective October 28: 

These rules update the processes for conducting risk-limiting audits for state and county races and measures.


The following WAC amendments were adopted July 7, 2023 and effective August 7:

These rules update statutory references in WAC to recodified federal and state statute.

WAC Terms and Definitions

Adoption Date

The date a state agency formally accepts changes to its rules as proposed under a CR-102. The rule change becomes effective at least 31 days after its adoption (except in the case of an emergency rule).

Effective Date

The date a rule’s standards begin and compliance with the new standard is required.

Repeal

Removes a section from the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 

Adopted by state agencies to create procedures to implement legal requirements as authorized by state law through the official rulemaking process in accordance with the Washington Administrative Procedure Act (RCW 34.05).

Washington State Register (WSR)

A biweekly publication where documents related to state agency rule filings are published.