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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Extending online voter signup

OLYMPIA -- Procrastinating voters who delay registering as the election approaches would have a little more time to sign up on-line before an election under a bill moving through the Legislature. But those who would prefer to go to the elections office and fill out the form would have a little less.

Washington currently has two deadlines for eligible residents to register to vote: 29 days before an election for filling out a form and mailing it in or filling out the online registration form and pressing the send button; eight days before the election for those willing to go to the county elections office and fill out the necessary paperwork.

But processing online registrations is more cost-effective and efficient, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said, while processing the paper forms takes more staff time. HB 1267 would allow online signups until 11 days before the election, which would also be the last day to register in person at an elections office. Paper forms that are filled out and mailed to the elections office would have to be postmarked no fewer than 28 days before the election. 

The shift for mail-in registrations means the deadline will never fall on the Monday holiday of a three-day weekend, when post offices are closed and letters can't be postmarked. The three-day shift for in-person registration moves the last day from a Monday to a Friday, which may be an easier day for a voter to take time off from work to make the trip to the elections office, Wyman said.

The bill was originally proposed to allow registration at the elections office on election day, was changed to have the different deadlines before it passed the House last year but didn't get a vote in the Senate. It passed the House again last month and received a hearing today in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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