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Washington

Washington didn’t have to make any major changes in order to adapt in 2020, as its existing system proved resilient enough to maintain its ability to allow voters to vote safely, both in person and by mail, in spite of the pandemic. Since so many people choose to vote their mail ballots, the state was able to provide adequate PPE and maintain social distance at vote centers for the portion of voters that decided to vote in person. As always, we stress that policy is important, but it is just as important that it is implemented well.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Washington can increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package by improving its current ballot tracking system. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.

Recent Legislation

As of May 20, 2021

Washington has been conducting its elections by mail for more than a decade, so the state already had the infrastructure needed in order to conduct the election safely and securely in the “new normal”. In 2021, the legislature passed a bill to mail voting in residential association elections, as well as one to make creating fake drop boxes a crime. Though it went nowhere, HB 1377 was introduced to completely dismantle the state’s election system.