Washington Voter Guide 2021: How to register to vote, vote-by-mail info, important dates

Washington state's 2021 General Election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 2, and features important local races including the race for mayor in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, Seattle city attorney, and a variety of other city and county races.

Below you will find important information on voting in Washington state, including how to register to vote, the vote by mail process, and key dates you need to know.


Key dates you need to know

October 15: Start of 18-day voting period (through Election Day). Ballots are mailed out and Accessible Voting Units (AVUs) are available at voting centers.

October 25: Online and mail registrations must be received 8 days before Election Day. Register to vote in person during business hours and any time before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

November 2: Deadline for Washington State voter registration or updates (in person only).

November 2: General Election - Deposit your ballot in an official drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

How do I register to vote?

The Secretary of State allows you to register to vote online here. If you don't have a Washington state driver's license or ID card, you'll have to register in person or by mail. 

How do I check my voter registration if I'm unsure?

If you need to check your voter registration information, you can click here and verify your personal information, including your address.


What's on my ballot?

You can check what is on your ballot and learn more by verifying your voter registration on the state's website here.

How do I learn more about candidates and offices?

A voters' pamphlet will be mailed to each household with a registered voter:

  • Voters’ Pamphlet Number of copies: 3.4 million (one per household)
  • Number of editions: 24
  • Residential delivery: October 1-8
  • Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Audio mp3

How and where do I vote?

Washington is all vote-by-mail:

Your ballot is mailed at least 18 days before each election. Your packet will include a ballot, a secrecy envelope or secrecy sleeve for your voted ballot, and a return envelope with pre-paid postage. If you are a registered voter and do not receive your ballot, contact your county elections department.

If you are registered to vote in Washington, there is no need to request a ballot. Confirm your registration at VoteWA.gov.

Voting by mail is convenient and gives you time to learn about the ballot measures and candidates before casting your vote. Return your ballot by official dropbox or by mail, no stamp needed. Your ballot must be deposited or postmarked by Election Day. If mailed, the USPS recommends that you mail a week before Election Day.

All counties conduct vote-by-mail elections. All vote-by-mail ballots (also known as absentee) are kept in secure storage while not being processed. Processing includes the verification of signatures and postmarks, removing the inner envelope from the outer envelope and removing the ballot from the inner envelope. Ballots are secured with numbered seals and a log is kept of the seal numbers to detect any inappropriate access. Votes cast are tabulated after 8 p.m. PST on Election Day. Results are neither known nor reported before 8 p.m.


How do I return my ballot?

Washington is all vote-by-mail. You can either drop your ballot into a USPS mailbox or deposit it at a ballot dropbox.

See a full list of dropboxes from the state

Drop boxes are open 24/7 during the voting period and close promptly at 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 2. Voting center hours vary, contact county elections office for info.

Can I vote in person?

Yes. Each county opens a voting center prior to each primary, special election, and general election. Each voting center is open during business hours during the voting period, which begins eighteen days before, and ends at 8:00 p.m. on the day of, the primary, special election, or general election. You can locate your nearest voting center by logging into VoteWA.gov or contacting your county's elections department.

King County Voting Center info

Pierce County Voting Center Info

Snohomish County Voting Center Info

I lost or didn't receive my ballot, how do I get a replacement?

Just ask! Contact your local county elections department when you have destroyed, spoiled, lost, or not received the original ballot. Remember, your county may only accept one ballot and will verify your signature. Alternatively, you can obtain a replacement ballot delivered online by logging into VoteWA.gov.

How is my ballot processed securely?

It is essential to the integrity of an election that ballot processing be accurate and transparent, while maintaining your right to a secret ballot. After you return your voted ballot, your county elections department follows this ballot-counting process:

Your signature on the outer return envelope is checked against the signature on file in your voter registration record to make sure they match.

You are credited for voting in that election. This ensures that only one ballot from each voter is counted.

The outer return envelope, which identifies you, is then separated from the inner security envelope, which contains your voted ballot. Your ballot cannot be traced back to you, ensuring the secrecy of your vote.

All ballots are inspected to make sure the tabulating machine will be able to read all votes. Tabulation equipment is tested before every election to make sure it is working accurately.

The above steps continue with all ballots until the election is certified.

Elections are certified 10 days after Special Elections, 14 days after Primaries and 21 days after General Elections. Preliminary election results are released on election night after 8 p.m. and are updated as additional ballots are counted.

You are welcome to observe ballot processing. Contact your county elections department for more information.

Additional Resources

Forms for Voters Missing Signature Form, Signature Update Form, Voter Registration Forms and translated forms available.

Recounts Frequently Asked Questions.

Top 2 Primary: FAQs for Voters Washington voters do not register by party affiliation. There will be no party selection box on the envelope. You may vote for any candidate regardless of the candidate's party preference.

Guide to Registering Voters Learn about guidelines and deadlines for hosting a registration drive.

Candidate Resources Forms, guides, and more.

Statewide Standards on What is a Vote Voter Intent Manual.

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