How to Vote in Washington’s 2022 Elections

Posted on 05/27/22 by Emily Paulin

En español | Washington’s Aug. 2 primary will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for the U.S. House and Senate, the state House and Senate, and several statewide offices.

What's new this year?

A new redistricting plan has changed the boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect which candidates appear on your ballot.

Essential info:

  • Voting by mail: All registered voters will automatically be sent a mail-in ballot for August’s primary and November’s general election, so they can vote from home.  
  • Early in-person voting: Washington also offers in-person voting in primary or general elections, starting 18 days before Election Day and ending at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • In-person voting on Election Day: The state’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 2; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Do I need to register to vote?

  • Online: Use the state’s VoteWA portal. You’ll need a current Washington state driver's license, permit or ID card. If you don’t have one of these, you may still register by mail or in person.

Online and mail registrations must be received (not postmarked) eight days before Election Day — that is, by Monday, July 25, for the primary and by Monday, Oct. 31, for the general election.

  • In person: Visit your county’s election department during normal business hours or anytime before 8 p.m. on Election Day. You can also register in person at the Department of Licensing; you must do so no later than eight days before Election Day (Monday, July 25, for the primary and Monday, Oct. 31, for the general election). Local organizations and candidates may also conduct voter registration drives in your area.

Check or update your registration via VoteWA.

Does my party affiliation matter when I vote?

No, not for the 2022 elections. No party affiliation is required in Washington except for the nominating primaries in a U.S. presidential election.

For the 2022 primary, the state uses a top-two primary system, whereby all congressional and state-level candidates from all parties appear on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of their party preference. All registered voters receive the same ballot.

How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?

All registered voters in Washington will be sent ballots via mail for the August primary and November’s general election — you don’t need to submit a request. The ballots are sent at least 18 days before Election Day (by Friday, July 15, for the primary and by Friday, Oct. 21, for the general election). For military and overseas voters, ballots are sent up to 45 days before Election Day.

If you’ll be away during the election period, or if you’ve moved, contact your county’s elections department and ask for your mailing address to be updated.

You can return your completed and signed ballot in the following ways:

  • By mail: Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day for the primary and the general election. If mailing your ballot within a week of Election Day, be mindful of mailbox collection times — a late postmark could disqualify your ballot.
  • Via drop box: Your ballot must be returned to a drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Log in to VoteWA for a map of drop boxes and voting centers in your area.

If your original ballot is destroyed, damaged, lost or not received, request a new one online by logging in to VoteWA or contacting your county’s election department. Replacement ballots may be sent via mail or electronically, picked up at your county’s election office or printed from an online application. If you request a new ballot, it will supersede any previously issued ballot.

Can I track my mail-in ballot?

Yes. Log in to the VoteWA site and select Ballot Status. Allow up to five business days for your ballot to be posted as received.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Yes. Each county opens a voting center on July 15 for the primaries and on Oct. 21 for the general election. Business hours differ among voting centers. On Election Day, however, most open between 7.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

You can locate your nearest voting center by logging in to VoteWA or contacting your county’s elections department.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 2, and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. If mailing your ballot, it must be postmarked by this date. Drop boxes and voting centers close at 8 p.m.

Log in to VoteWA for a map of drop boxes and voting centers in your area.

Do I need identification to vote?

No, not if you are already registered. Your signature on your ballot declaration will be compared against your signature on file in your secured registration record. This signature is collected when you register to vote, which is when election officials verify your identity.

If you are registering to vote on Election Day, you will need to provide a current Washington state driver's license, permit or ID card, or the last four digital of your Social Security number.

What races are on the ballot?

  • U.S. Senate: one seat, currently held by Democrat Sen. Patty Murray
  • U.S. House: all 10 seats
  • State Senate: 25 of 49 seats 
  • State House: all 98 seats
  • Secretary of state
  • State Supreme Court, intermediate appellate courts and others

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Jan. 24, 2022, with information on how to vote in 2022. The guide was first published on Aug. 14, 2020.

Also of Interest:

This story is provided by AARP Washington. Visit the AARP Washington page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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