How to Vote in Washington’s 2024 Elections

Posted on 03/15/24 by Grace Dickinson

En español

Important dates and election information

Key dates

  • State primary: Tuesday, Aug. 6
  • General election: Tuesday, Nov. 5

Voting at a glance

  • By mail: All registered voters are automatically sent a mail-in ballot for each election. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day or returned to an official ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
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  • In person: You can vote in person starting 18 days before an election and up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Find your voting center by logging into VoteWA.gov or by contacting your county elections office. If you’re already registered, you don’t need to provide an ID.

What to know about recent changes

  • Starting July 15, a new law will allow you to register to vote online using the last four digits of your Social Security number, eliminating the need to provide a driver's license or state-issued ID number.
  • Washington’s automatic voter registration policy has changed. Currently, when you provide proof of U.S. citizenship to complete certain transactions with Washington state agencies, such as getting an enhanced driver’s license or ID with the Department of Licensing, you’re automatically registered to vote or have your voter registration information in the state’s database updated, unless you opt out at the state agency. Starting July 15, there will be no opportunity to opt out at the state agency. If you want to decline voter registration, you’ll receive a notice in the mail with instructions on how to do so.

Voter registration

  • Online: Use the state’s VoteWA portal. You’ll need a current Washington driver's license, permit or ID card. If you don’t have one of these, you may still register by mail or in person. After July 15, you can register online using just the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  • By mail: Print a voter registration form or submit an online request for one to be mailed to you. You’ll need to provide a Washington driver's license, permit or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you can’t provide one of these IDs, you may leave this section on the form blank but will be asked for an alternative ID, such as a copy of a current utility bill or bank statement, by your county elections office before registration is approved. Once you complete the form, mail or take it in person to your county’s election office.
Election 2022 Washington Primary
A person puts their ballot in a drop box on Oct. 27, 2020, at a library in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

  • In person: Visit your county’s election office during normal business hours or anytime before 8 p.m. on Election Day. You can also register to vote at any driver’s licensing office. Find your closest driver’s licensing office using the state’s online location tool.

Online and mail registrations must be received eight days before an election. You can check or update your current registration status at VoteWA.

Military and overseas voters are exempt from regular voter registration deadlines and may request a ballot through Election Day or request a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. For more information about military and overseas voting, visit the secretary of state’s website.

Registering to vote on Election Day

You can register to vote in person at your county’s election office up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. You’ll need to provide a driver’s license, permit, state ID, the last four digits of your Social Security number or other form of alternate identification, such as a copy of a recent utility bill.

If you can’t provide an acceptable form of ID, you’ll receive a provisional registration, and remain “provisionally registered” until you provide ID. If, after two federal general elections, you haven’t provided ID, your registration will be canceled.

Primary voting and party affiliation

For the state primary, Washington uses a top-two primary system, which doesn’t require you to declare a party affiliation. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will be listed on the same ballot, and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. To learn more about Washington’s top-two primary system, visit the secretary of state’s website.

Ways to vote

Voting by mail

All registered voters are automatically sent a mail-in ballot for each election. Ballots are sent out by county election offices no later than 18 days before an election. (If you are a military or overseas voter, you may qualify to receive a ballot as early as 90 days before the election.) Contact your county’s elections department if you don’t receive a ballot, or if your ballot is damaged or lost.

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

Return your completed ballot by mail, no postage stamp needed. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day. (The U.S. Postal Service recommends that you mail your ballot at least one week before Election Day.) You also may return your completed ballot to an official ballot drop box up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. To find a drop box location near you, log into the state’s VoteWA portal.

To track your ballot, use the state’s VoteWA portal. Allow three to five business days for your ballot to be posted as received.

Voting in person before Election Day

In-person voting opens 18 days before an election. To locate your nearest voting center, contact your county’s elections department or log in to VoteWA.

Voting at the polls on Election Day

Log in to VoteWA to find a map of voting centers in your area, along with opening hours for each location. All polls close at 8 p.m.

Voter ID requirements on Election Day

If you’re registering to vote on Election Day, you’ll need to provide a current Washington driver's license, permit or ID card or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you’re already registered, you don’t need to provide an ID. Election officials will compare the signature on your ballot declaration against the signature collected when you registered to vote.

Voting with a disability

When voting by mail, voters with disabilities can request assistance filling in their ballot from a person of their choice or by contacting their county elections office. Voters are required to sign the ballot envelope, but if the voter can’t sign the envelope, they may make a mark, such as an “X,” and have two witnesses sign the envelope.

When voting in person, those who need assistance filling in their ballot can receive help from either two election officials or a person of their choice. Each polling place is equipped with an accessible voting system. Get more information at the secretary of state’s website.

More information about candidates and key races

Key races:

  • U.S. President
  • Governor
  • U.S. Senate: one seat
  • U.S. House: 10 seats
  • State House: 98 seats
  • State Senate: 25 seats

Find sample ballots as they become available on the secretary of state’s website.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Mar. 15, 2024, with new information about voting in 2024.

Grace Dickinson is a writer for aarp.org who covers federal and state policy. She previously wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work has also appeared on sites like HuffPost and Eater.

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