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FAQ: Everything you need to know about voting in Washington state

Photo credit: iStock.com/SeventyFour

Washington is one of nine U.S. states, and the District of Columbia, that will conduct the General Election mainly by mail. An additional 36 states will give registered voters the option to request a vote-by-mail ballot. The widespread adoption of mail-in voting (also known as absentee voting) for the upcoming election is due to concerns that crowded polling places could contribute to the spread of coronavirus.

Against this backdrop, a public debate has emerged around the security of voting by mail – specifically, whether the process is vulnerable to fraud.

For Washington state, mail-in voting is nothing new. The state has used vote-by-mail for all elections since 2011.

However, you still have the right to choose between voting by mail or voting in person. Here is everything you need to know about voting in this year’s election.

When will my mail-in ballot arrive?

If you are registered to vote in Washington, a ballot will be mailed to you at least 18 days before the election. Along with your ballot, you will receive a secrecy sleeve in which to place your completed ballot, and a return envelope with pre-paid postage.

How do I check my registration status?

Log into VoteWA.gov.

What is the deadline to register?

The last day to register online or by mail is Monday, Oct. 26. You can register in-person through Election Day.

What is the deadline to turn in my completed vote-by-mail ballot?

Your completed ballot must be postmarked by Election Day, although the USPS recommends that you mail it a week prior to Election Day. If you decide to mail your ballot on Election Day, be sure to check mailbox collection times because a late postmark could disqualify your ballot. You can also deposit the completed ballot at an official drop box by 8 p.m. on Election day. Log into VoteWA.gov to find a drop box in your area.

Can I vote in person?

Yes. You can visit a voting center during business hours starting Friday, Oct. 16 through 8 p.m. on Election Day.

How do I find a voting location?

To find a voting center near you, log into VoteWA.gov or contact your county elections department.

Can I take off work to vote?

Washington does not have time-off-to-vote laws, so if you plan to vote in-person, make sure to schedule time around your work day. Many voting centers are also open the Saturday before the election.

For additional information about the Nov. 3 election, including how to vote if you are displaced by wildfires, who will appear on the ballot, important dates, deadlines and contact info, click here.

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