Changes In Place For Washington Elections

Jul 3, 2019

Changes to Washington's voting system took effect July 1, including several that affect registration.

When the calendar turned from June to July, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton’s job became more complicated.

“Elections in the state of Washington changed extensively on July 1," Dalton said. Her elections' office staff members are rushing to learn and implement new procedures before next month's primary.

Those changes were meant to make registration and voting easier.

For example, Washington residents who apply for enhanced driver’s licenses are automatically registered to vote, if they aren’t already. Those who apply for coverage on the state’s health insurance exchange can ask the state to send them a voter registration form.

And that waiting period between registering to vote and actually voting? Gone.

“You can register to vote every day of the year, including Election Day. It’s just how you do it," Dalton said. "Now, online and sending through the mail cuts off eight days prior to Election Day. And then if you want to register to vote during that week before Election Day or Election Day itself, you need to come in physically to a county auditor’s office or a vote center.”

In Spokane County, Dalton says there will be one vote center, at the Center Place event facility in Spokane Valley. It will be the only place, outside of the auditor’s office, where in-person voting will be allowed on Election Day.

With a month or so left before the August 6 primary, Dalton is urging those who want to register or transfer their voter registration address to do so as soon as possible.

There are other changes as well. The legislature decided the state will, from now on, cover voters’ postage costs to send in their ballots.

Dalton says the changes in the voting system mandated by lawmakers are extensive and it means vote counting on Election Night in August may be a little slower than usual.