- Departments & Offices
- Elections & Voter Registration
- Voter Information
- Frequently Asked Voter Questions
Frequently Asked Voter Questions
- How can I register to vote?
- Online – Register at www.VoteWA.gov if you have a WA driver's license or id card. (This must be completed no later than 8 days before the election.)
- By Mail, email or fax – Complete and return this form. (In order for this form to be processed, it must be received no later than 8 days before the election.)
- In Person – This may be done in an Elections Office or other designated location during business hours through Election Day. On Election Day, you may register at the Elections Office in Coupeville from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- How do I know if I'm registered to vote?
Voter registration can be confirmed online at www.VoteWA.gov or by contacting the Elections Office.
- Do I have to wait until I'm 18 years old to register?
- No. In Washington, you may register as a "Future Voter" when you are 16 years old.
- Your registration will be contained in the system but will not be activated until you are 18 years old.
- Are voter registration records accurate?
- The Office of the Secretary of State works with the Department of Licensing, the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and the Department of Corrections to receive updated information.
- Washington State is a member of ERIC (Electronic Records Information Center) which compares voter registrations and motor vehicle license data across 30 states.
- The most important resource of registration information is the voter. Make sure your registration is up to date by visiting www.VoteWA.gov
- I have moved, now what?
- If your new address is in Washington State, you can update your registration by any of the methods above.
- If your new address is not in Washington State, you can cancel your registration by completing this form.
- Voters cannot update their WA State Voter Registration using the US Postal Service address change forms.
- Do I need to register by party?
Washington voters do not register by party.
- Where is my polling place?
Washington is a vote by mail state; there are no traditional polling places. Ballots are mailed to the voter's residence or mailing address; this allows voters approximately two weeks to vote and return ballots.
- How do I get a ballot?
- Ballots are mailed to the address on file for all active Washington State registered voters. Ballots are mailed no later than 18 days prior to Election Day. Allow 3-5 days for postal delivery of ballots.
- Members of the military, overseas voters, "Snowbirds", students, etc. are encouraged to go online to ensure the Elections Office has their most current mailing address.
- Military/dependent/overseas voters are currently eligible to receive ballots by email.
- Can I vote online?
Online voting is not available in WA. Voters may go online to obtain and print a ballot, but there is no way to cast a vote online.
- When will I get a ballot?
- Military and overseas voters' ballots are mailed not later than 45 days before an election.
- Standard ballots are mailed not later than 18 days before an election.
- Why did I receive two ballots?
- You may receive an updated ballot because your residential address or name changed after the initial ballot mailing. This can happen when you interact with the Department of Licensing for drivers' licensing services or if you go online to update your voter information after the ballots have been printed/mailed.
- If you receive two ballots, please open both packets. One should have an insert indicating that it is a "Replacement/Reissued Ballot." Please vote and return the replacement/reissued ballot. It has the correct races and precinct information for your new address.
- If you vote the initial ballot and return it, the elections office will simply hold it and wait to see if you vote the other ballot. If the replacement ballot isn't received, your initial ballot will be counted.
- Only one ballot will be counted. The other ballot will be suspended.
- Why did my 17-year-old get a ballot?
- A "Primary Only Voter" is a 17-year-old, who will be 18 years old on or before the November General Election.
- In Washington, registered Primary Only Voters may vote in the Primary Election for offices on the General Election ballot.
- The ballots issued to Primary Only Voters contain only the eligible offices.
- Primary Only Voters are not permitted to vote on any contest where the final decision is made in the Primary Election (i.e. propositions, PCO races, etc.).
- Ballots issued to Primary Only Voters will contain only the office in which they are eligible to vote.
- Where are the official ballot drop boxes located?
Official Island County Drop Boxes:
- Island County Elections Office - 400 N. Main St., Coupeville (outside)
- Island County Elections Office - 400 N. Main St., Coupeville (in lobby)
- Trinity Lutheran Church - 18341 SR 525, Freeland
- Ken's Korner Shopping Center - 4141 SR 525, Clinton
- Camano Island - 121 N. East Camano Drive, Camano Island
- Oak Harbor City Hall - 865 S.E. Barrington Dr., Oak Harbor
- Langley - Post Office (front patio), 115 2nd St., Langley
- When are the drop boxes open?
- The Official Drop Boxes open no later than 18 days before Election Day. This is the same timeframe ballots are mailed.
- Only the drop boxes located in the districts on the ballot will be open during an election.
- Official Ballot Drop Boxes close promptly at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
- Am I allowed to put campaign materials near an Official Ballot Drop Box.
- No. During the voting period (18 days before an election through the close of the election), no "electioneering" is permitted within 25 feet of a ballot drop box. RCW 29A.84.510
- Electioneering is also prohibited within 100 feet of any ballot counting center. RCW 29A.84.510
- What if I'm away from Island County on Election Day? How do I drop off my ballot?
- Voted ballots can be deposited in any official drop box in Washington state.
- The county where you deposit the ballot will forward the ballot to the county where you are registered.
- How secure are the drop boxes?
The ballot drop boxes are composed of high grade materials, and secured with locks and numbered seals.
- Who empties the drop boxes?
Teams of two employees of the Auditor's Department empty the drop boxes.
- Who can view ballots being processed? Are there witnesses while ballots are being counted to ensure there is no bias?
- The public is welcome to view all elections work.
- The Republican and Democratic parties are requested to provide official observers for each election.
- Campaign members and candidates are welcome to observe as well.
- How does the elections department process my ballot securely?
- Ballots entering the Counting Center are secured at all times.
- Seals and logs are used to track the security of ballots, equipment and access to areas.
- Reconciliations are completed multiple times throughout the day in order to verify that all ballots received are accounted for.
- The processing of ballots is completed in the full view of any observers present.
- Ballots are processed by teams of two workers at all times.
- How do you know that the ballot comes from me?
- The signature on the outer return envelope of your voted ballot is verified against the signature in your voter registration record. If you registered electronically or through the Motor Voter system, the signature is most likely the one on your WA Driver's License/ID card.
- If you forget to sign your ballot or the signature is not a match to the signature on file, we will send you a letter requesting you to correct the signature issue on your ballot allowing us to process and count your ballot.
- If your signature can be verified, you are credited for voting. This credit prevents any other ballot being accepted and ensures that only one ballot from each voter is counted.
- How are my votes kept private?
- The outer return envelope, which identifies you, is separated from the inner security sleeve which contains your voted ballot. Once separated, the ballot cannot be traced back to you.
- When the team has removed the outer envelopes from all of the security sleeves in a tray of ballots, the outer envelopes are set aside and the ballots are then removed from the sleeves.
- Vote choices on your ballot are secret. No record may be created or maintained that identifies how individual voters marked their ballot.
- Why do vote totals change and races "flip" in the days following the election?
Washington State accepts ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, rather than the date the ballots are received. As more ballots are received and processed, race results can change. This is normal and well within ranges of statistical probability. Additionally, under Same Day Registration, voters may continue to register and vote up until 8:00pm on Election Day.
- How do we know that the ballot tabulation systems are secure?
Tabulation equipment is certified by the Washington Secretary of State and the Federal Election Assistance Commission. This equipment is never connected to the internet or any network; and provides records for each election.
- I got a confirmation card in the mail. Why?
The National Voter Registration Act and Washington State Law both require counties to take steps to verify voter addresses.
Confirmation cards are sent to voters to confirm their information if:
- A piece of mail is returned by the postal service as undeliverable
- A piece of mail is forwarded by the postal service to an address out of the county
- A notice is received by the Elections Office from a state or federal agency, stating that the voter's address has changed
- What happened to my voter registration? Why am I no longer registered?
It is still there, but it is "inactive". Because of a notification we received from USPS or a state agency, we must verify your information in order to continue to send your ballots.
- What do I do with the card?
- Complete the information, sign and return the postage prepaid card.
- If your card shows that you are still living in Island County, your address is updated and your registration is reactivated and ballots will be mailed to the updated address.
- If your card shows that you have moved to another Washington County, we will send the card to the new county and they will transfer your registration to their county.
- If you mark that you have moved out of state, your registration will be cancelled.
- What happens if I don't return the card or update my address online?
If a voter is inactive and does not update their information or return the card, after two consecutive federal general elections, their voter registration is cancelled, as required by federal and state law.
- How do I know the card is really from Island County Elections?
Ensure the 2-part card has a return address of: Island County Elections, PO Box 1410, Coupeville WA 98239-1410. Official Island County Elections mail comes from and returns to this address.