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Voter Registration—Why It’s Important Right Now

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Election Day is in November, right?! Yes, and you must be registered to vote in order to vote. But why now?

This year, there’s a Presidential Primary Election in Washington state—Tuesday, March 10, 2020—as well as the August 4 Primary Election and November 3 General Election.

Some people refer to Washington’s presidential primary as “Little Tuesday,” differentiating it from “Super Tuesday” on March 3—the date when the largest number of states will hold presidential election primaries and caucuses. But there’s nothing little about March 10—both major political parties will use the presidential primaries to choose their nominees.

How to vote in Washington state’s Presidential Primary Election

I won’t tell you who to vote for, just how to do it. All currently registered voters probably received a ballot in the mail already. If you are registered and did not receive your ballot, call your local elections office—in King County, that’s 206-296-VOTE. If you’re unsure which address your ballot was mailed to, check your registration online. You may need to update your address.

When you complete your ballot, mark the return envelope to indicate if you are voting as a Democrat or Republican. In this election, if you don’t mark your preferred political party, your vote won’t be counted.

Registering to vote in Washington state

Register to Vote BannerGood news for those who aren’t currently registered to vote—you can register right up until Election Day! You can register to vote online or by mail until eight days before election day. You can register in person right up to and through election day, and receive, complete, and return your ballot before you leave the elections office. Online registration is open 24/7. Mail-in registrations need to be received (not just postmarked) by the eight-day deadline.

If you or someone you know is eligible to vote but not registered, encourage them to register online, by mail, or in person NOW (this is urgent because it’s so easy for busy people to put tasks off). You’ll find King County voter registration information here. The statewide online registration site works no matter where you live in Washington state.

Government by the majority who participate

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” That’s why it’s important to ask family, friends, and neighbors to vote. If you value democracy, voting is fundamental.

Did you know that 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote? It’s true—the elections department will simply hold the registration until the voter turns 18. Let the young people in your life know how important it is to vote in every election and share the registration information above.

Every vote counts! Read “Why Every Vote Matters—The Elections Decided By A Single Vote (Or A Little More)” on NPR.

Contributor Cathy Knight directs Aging and Disability Services—a division of the Seattle Human Services Department that is appointed by the State of Washington as the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle & King County. To access services, contact Community Living Connections (844-548-5464).