Senate Joint Resolution 8205
The Constitutional Provision as it Presently Exists
The Washington Constitution currently contains two provisions relating to the length of time that a person must be a resident of Washington in order to vote. One of those provisions, article VI, section 1A, is inoperative because of court decisions and a more recent amendment to the other provision, article VI, section 1.
Article VI, section 1, provides that all citizens who are at least eighteen years old are entitled to vote if they have lived in the state, county, and precinct for at least 30 days before the election. The second provision, article VI, section 1A, states that all citizens of the United States who become residents of Washington during a presidential election year may vote for the offices of president and vice president if they resided in Washington for at least 60 days before the election.
The voters added article VI, section 1A, to the state constitution in 1966 as Amendment 46. At that time, article VI, section 1, of the state constitution required voters to reside in the state for a full year prior to voting and, in addition, required that they live in the county for 90 days and the city, town, ward, or precinct for 30 days before the election. Therefore, when section 1A was added to the constitution in 1966, it provided a more lenient residency requirement so that new residents of the state could vote for president and vice president after a shorter, 60-day period of residency.
After the voters approved adding section 1A to the state constitution, the United States Supreme Court ruled that any requirement that voters live in a particular place longer than 30 days in order to vote is unconstitutional. Based upon that holding, the Washington Supreme Court held that the 90-day county and one-year state residency requirements stated in article VI, section 1, were unconstitutional. Washington voters then approved amending article VI, section 1, to read as it does today in order to conform to the court decisions, but this amendment did not repeal or change article VI, section 1A. Washington law therefore currently entitles all otherwise-qualified citizens to vote if they have resided within the state, county, and precinct for at least 30 days.
Article VI, section 1A, remains part of the state constitution, but has no operative effect.
The Effect of the Proposed Amendment, if Approved
This measure proposes to amend the state constitution to remove article VI, section 1A, from the state constitution. The state constitution would continue to entitle all otherwise-eligible citizens of the United States to vote if they have resided in Washington, and in their county and precinct, for at least 30 days before the election.