Information about Washington State’s Same Day Registration Process Answered
Senator Doug Ericksen(R) of the 42nd Legislative District
reached out to Secretary of State Kim Wyman with Five Questions posed concerning some of the differences that have been noted between the Same Day Registration laws and prior to the Same Day Registration laws.
- Legislative Building PO Box 40220
- Olympia, WA 98504-0220
- Tel 360.902.4151
- Fax 360.586.5629
- Jan.14, 2021
- Senator Doug Ericksen PO Box 40442
- Olympia, WA 98504-0442
- Re: Letter January 5, 2021
- Dear Senator Ericksen:
1. Is it legal for a person to move their voter registration to a non-permanent address prior to an election?
The term “non-permanent address” is not defined in statute. The Washington State Constitution and pursuant case law provide for residence requirements and conclude that an address attested to in the oath is sufficient. There are numerous circumstances, including non-traditional addresses, military deployment, students at institutions of learning, and people with two or more residences, that are specifically addressed in statute. For more information, see Washington State Constitution, Article VI, Sections 1 and 3; RCW 29A.04.151; RCW 29A.08.112.
2. How close to an election can a person transfer their voter registration to a different legislative district within Washington State.
Washington voters may update their registration online at VoteWA.gov or by mail up to eight days prior to election day. All mailed-in registration forms and updates must be received by county elections offices no later than eight days prior to election day. Forms received less than eight day before election day will not be processed, even if the mail was postmarked prior to the eight-day mark.
Voters may also update their registration in person at any county elections office or voting center during operational hours, and through 8 p.m. election night.
In all cases, the applicant must attest to meeting eligibility requirements, including that their voting residency address was established at least 30 days before election day. An
individual may specify a mailing address that is different from their residential address.
Washington voters do not register by legislative district. Voter registration deadlines are outlined in RCW 29A.08.140.
3. If it is illegal to conduct the activity in question 1, what steps does the SOS take to identify violators, and what enforcement steps does the SOS undertake?
Applicants must attest to their permanent address or non-traditional address in order to register.
If the required information for voter registration is included – name; address; date of birth; a signature attesting to the truth of the information provided on the application; and an indication in the box confirming the individual is a
U.S. citizen –the person must be added to the voter registration file.. State law does provide for a local challenge of a voter registration, which can be brought by any registered voter or the county prosecutor. The burden of proof lies with the challenger, and evidence must be presented to the county canvassing board for review. Learn more about the challenge process here. (RCW 29A.08.810 through 29A.08.850.). These challenges are filed with the county auditor.
Though the Office of the Secretary of State is without enforcement authority, all instances of suspected fraud or apparently valid voter registration challenges are referred to county elections officials, who work with local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and possibly charge a crime. A person who commits voter fraud is guilty of a class C felony. This is clearly stated on all registration forms.
4. Does the SOS track or keep a list of a person’s previous voter registration addresses when a person moves their voter registration to a new address in Washington state?’
We can provide, upon request, monthly extracts from the Voter Registration Database, which may be analyzed to review voter migration or other characteristics.
5. If it is illegal to conduct the activity in question 1, how many people have the SOS or local agents identified for engaging in this illegal activity, and what punishment for these individuals.
Like most governmental entities, when fraud is reasonably suspected, such instances are referred to law enforcement for review by a prosecuting attorney. All instances of suspected fraud are forwarded to county elections officials, who work with local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and possibly charge a crime. Ultimately, a court must determine whether an activity is legal based on individual case evidence presented. Should a court determine a violation of any election statute governing fraud, the category is a class C felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional institution for five years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of $10,000, or by both such confinement and fine.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide information about elections administration in Washington state. If I can provide additional clarity, please do not hesitate to reach out me directly.
Washington Secretary of State