Time to vote: What you need to know about Washington’s 2019 primary

Submitted by the office of the Washington Secretary of State

Ballots began arriving in mailboxes across the state this week for the 2019 Primary Election and voters may notice some changes. As counties implement the new voter registration laws to expand voter convenience, election officials are also increasing ballot security with technology.

“The speed and connectivity of the new VoteWA system mean voters can register to vote or update their addresses by mail or online up to eight days prior to an election,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman explained. “Applications must be received by July 29 to participate in the August Primary.” After July 29, citizens can visit a local voting center or county elections office in person to register, update their addresses, receive a replacement ballot, or vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Some of the law changes have increased the number of replacement ballots issued by counties. “When a registered voter changes their address, it triggers new security protocols for county election officials to follow,” Secretary Wyman said. Election workers are required to update the voter registration record with the new address, cancel the ballot that was sent to the previous address, and send the correct ballot to the voter’s new address.

Security features built within VoteWA — a powerful new tool to heighten security and combat cyber threats — ensure that every ballot is carefully recorded and tracked. Only one ballot will be counted for each eligible voter.

“Over 118,000 voters to date have updated their registration information after the counties prepared ballots for the initial mailing, which may result in those voters receiving two ballots,” State Election Director Lori Augino said. “This was expected, as our state now allows voters to update their address right up to election day.” Previously, registered voters could not change their voting address during the voting period. These voters are advised to return the ballot for their current address.

Additionally, ballot return envelopes now include prepaid postage, so stamps are not required when voters return their ballots by mail. All ballots returned via mail must be postmarked by Election Day. Voters who submit ballots close to or on Election Day should use a dropbox to ensure their ballot is received on time. Ballot drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, August 6.

Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.