September 11, 2020 Blog
All Your 2020 Election Questions Answered
For more information about voting outside of Washington state, visit our friends at Vote.org.
The most consequential election in a generation is happening on November 3, 2020.
Of course, voters will cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. But Washington voters have big decisions to make closer to home too, from governor to state representative to superintendent of public schools. This election will determine who is in charge of building safer and stronger communities in the years to come.
Don’t miss this chance to make your voice heard at this unprecedented moment in history. Here’s everything you need about voting this year:
How do I register?
You can register to vote, verify your registration, update your address, and find out what’s on your ballot here.
Is it too late to register?
No! In 2018, Washington enacted same-day voter registration, which means voters can register in-person and cast a ballot through Election Day. You can also register online (here) until October 26, 2020. Remember, if you have moved since the last time you voted, you’ll need to update your registration online or in person.
How do I vote?
Washington state is a vote by mail state, which means if you’re registered to vote your ballot should appear in your mailbox a couple weeks before Election Day. This year, ballots will start going out by October 16. The envelope will include a ballot, a secrecy envelope, and a return envelope. Follow the instructions that accompany your ballot then drop your ballot back in the mail (no stamp required!) or find a ballot drop box location.
Is voting by mail secure?
Yes! Washingtonians have been voting by mail securely for a decade and our state has an effective system in place to keep your vote safe and secure. Importantly, voter fraud is exceedingly rare whether voting takes place in person or by mail. Oregon, for instance, has sent out more than 100 million mail ballots since 2000 and reported around 12 cases of proven fraud.
When do I vote?
Election day is November 3, 2020 and the voting period begins October 16, 2020. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you’re waiting until the last minute, the best way to make sure your vote will be counted is to return it in a dropbox. Once you’ve turned in your ballot, you can track it here.
Can I vote in person?
Yes. Every county has a voting center that is open during business hours throughout the voting period, which begins 18 days before Election Day and ends at 8:00PM on Election Day. Find the nearest voting center by logging in to MyVote.wa.gov or contacting your county elections department. Because of COVID-19, the CDC recommends finding alternatives to voting in person if possible. But if you do need to get to the polls in person, follow these safety recommendations from the CDC.
What if I need a new ballot?
No problem! You can get a replacement ballot delivered online by logging in to MyVote.wa.gov. If you don’t receive a ballot, lose it or even make a mistake while filling it out, you can print a new one at your county elections office website.
Is the coronavirus impacting the election?
Because Washington state is considered a vote-by-mail state, the impacts of the coronavirus will be smaller than in other states. During the primary, the Secretary of State asked voters NOT to lick their envelopes and to use an “alternative” method to seal your ballot to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For people wanting or needing in-person voting options this year, some voting centers will offer a drive-up service to drop off ballots.
When will we know the results?
As soon as all the votes are counted (which we Washingtonians know can take days or even weeks)! Ballots can be counted as they are turned in, but ballots returned on Election Day are signature checked by hand by a human before being fed into a counting machine. This year, as more states allow vote by mail, it may take much longer than normal to get definitive results.
— Kristen Ellingboe is the Communications Manager with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.