New state election laws now in effect

 


New conveniences and increased accessibility for voters in Washington are now law, Jamie Groomes, chief deputy auditor and elections supervisor in Okanogan County noted Tuesday.

The state Legislature passed bills recently that changed dates and deadlines for registration and voting. The changes, which took effect July 1, include:

• Prepaid postage: Every ballot now comes with a prepaid ballot-return envelope so voters don’t have to search for a stamp. Every mailbox is now a drop box. Auditors recommend mailing ballots by the Friday before an election day.

• Online voter registration: The 2019 Primary Election is Tuesday, Aug. 6. Unregistered eligible voters have until Monday, July 29, for online or mail registrations to be received. They’ll also have until Monday, Oct. 28, for registrations to be received in time for the Nov. 5 General Election. After those dates, they’ll have to register in person at their county elections office. Register online at http://www.VoteWA.gov.


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• Same-day registration: If potential voters can’t get registered online or by mail before the eight-day deadline, they can visit their county elections office in person during regular business hours and any time before 8 p.m. on Aug. 6 to vote in the primary, and Nov. 5 to vote in the general election.

• Future Voters: 16- and 17-year-old residents can now enroll in the Future Voter program to automatically be registered to vote on their 18th birthday. Future Voters who turn 18 on or before Aug. 6, can vote in the 2019 Primary, while those who turn 18 on or before Nov. 5, can vote in this year’s General Election.

County auditors have fought for the Legislature to fully fund elections in Washington, noting that counties are required to pay for the state’s share in even-year elections — when most state offices are on the ballot. Though some of the new election laws will place additional burdens on already resource-strapped counties, auditors and election directors say, their top priority is to ensure secure and accurate elections to reinforce confidence in the process with the voting public.

 

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