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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

It’s National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day, so declared by a number of civic groups and the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Those groups are concerned that a reported 6 million people didn't vote in 2008 because they said they either missed the registration deadline of didn't know how to vote. Setting aside the suspicion that some of those people were coming up with a convenient alibi for being too lazy to register, it's possible that some folks aren't that familiar with the process.

So Spin Control has some handy tips on voter registration.

1. You must be an American citizen. That means you were, as Bruce Springsteen might say, born in the U.S.A., or applied for and granted citizenship if you were born somewhere else.(Naturalized citizens take a test before becoming Americans, so they probably know the rules better than folks who were born here and managed to sleep through civics class in junior high.)

2. You must be at least 18. In some states, including Washington, you can register at 17 if you're going to be 18 by Election Day, which this year in Nov. 3. In Idaho, you must be at least 18 when filing your application.

3. Not a felon who hasn't had your rights restored. In Washington, a felon's right to vote is restored once he or she is no longer under the control and supervision of the Department of Corrections, but re-registration is required. In Idaho, a felon's votes is required once he or she has satisfied all penalties, and is no longer on parole or probation. 

4. Not judged mentally incompetent by a court.

5. A resident of the state where you are registering. In Washington, you must be a resident for at least 30 days before the election, and have some proof of residence such as a driver's license of state ID card. In Idaho, you must be a resident for at least 30 days before Election Day, and can register up to 25 days before the election at the county clerk's office, or on Election Day at the polls with proof of residency.

In Washington, you can register in person at the county elections office, or online. Click here to get started.

In Idaho, you can register in person at the county clerk's office or fill out a registration application and mail it in 

If you are registered, don't get caught up in all the National Election Day celebrating and try registering again. This ain't Chicago, after all. It's just one registration per customer.

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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