May 18, 2023 - Politics

Voter registration is getting simpler in Washington state

Illustration of I Voted stickers, piled on top of one another.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's about to become even easier for Washington residents to register to vote.

Driving the news: A new state law means people no longer need a driver's license or state-issued ID to register to vote online, as long as they have a Social Security number.

Plus: A second measure will automatically register people to vote when they apply for an enhanced driver's license or enhanced ID, both of which require proof of citizenship.

Why it matters: The goal is to eliminate barriers to voter registration, so that people who don't drive or who don't have state-issued IDs aren't barred from using the state's online voter registration portal — and so more people can get registered without having to think about it.

Details: The new online voter registration law will let people use the last four digits of their Social Security number to register to vote online, as long as they later submit an image or copy of their signature.

  • The automatic voter registration law, meanwhile, will sign people up to vote when they show proof of citizenship at the Department of Licensing.
  • They will be asked later by mail if they want to opt out, rather than being given that option at the beginning of the process, which is how it works right now.
  • Supporters say that approach has increased voter registration in other states, including Colorado and Oregon.

What they're saying: "If we want people to register to vote and participate in our civic process, we have to make it simple — or people aren't going to do it," state Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma ), who sponsored the online voter registration change, told Axios.

What's next: Most of the voter registration changes will take effect in July 2024, in the lead-up to the midterm elections.


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