Frequently Asked Questions

Registration FAQs

How do I update my political party affiliation?

  • We do not track party affiliation as part of your voter registration. Other states may require voters to declare a party when they register, but NOT in the State of Washington.

How do I sign up to be an absentee voter?

  • All voters in Washington vote by mail. Ballots are mailed 20 days before the election.  

Can I be registered to vote in more than one county/state?

  • No, you may only vote in one county in one state. You may only vote once. The voter declaration on the return envelope states "... voting only once in this election and not voting in any other United States jurisdiction;..."

Is my voter registration information public?

  • Yes, your name, date of birth, gender, residential & mailing address are public information.  See RCW 29A.08.710 for the complete list of information available for public inspection. 

How do I request a registered voter list?

Ballot FAQs

I forgot to put my ballot in the security sleeve. Is that ok?

  • The security sleeve is optional.  The Return Envelope IS required when returning your ballot, don’t forget to sign!

Can I vote In-Person?

  • Yes, each county opens a voting center prior to each election.  However, your ballot will arrive by mail at home, so you don’t need to visit us In-Person!

My (spouse, roommate, partner) signed my ballot. What should I do?

  • This a very common mistake, and happens all the time! If someone has mistakenly signed your ballot envelope, draw a line through the incorrect signature and sign your name directly above the correction.

I’ve made a mistake on my ballot. How do I correct a vote?

  • To correct a vote, draw a line through the incorrect choice and make another selection. 

Do I have to vote on everything on the ballot?  What if I skip something?

  • All the votes you cast will be counted.  If you do not make a choice, no votes will be counted for that measure or contest.

What happens if I vote for more than one candidate?

  • If you make more than one choice (without correcting) in a contest/measure, no votes will count for that contest/measure.

I reopened my return envelope and sealed It shut with tape/glue. Will my vote still count?

  • Yes! As long as the signature on your return envelope matches your registration, your vote will still count.

 I received two ballots, does that mean I get to vote twice?

  • Sorry you don’t get to vote twice! If you have recently moved or changed your address, replacement ballots will be mailed to you. You should vote the ballot that was mailed to your current/correct address.
  • Each return envelope has a unique barcode associated with each voter, and only one ballot may be accepted for each voter. Once a ballot has been received all other ballots become void.

I got a letter saying my signature did not match the signature on file with your election office. Is my ballot no longer accepted?

  • All signatures are verified by staff trained by the Washington State Patrol. Staff are trained to look for signature similarities and patterns. However, signatures often change and your signature may no longer match what we have on file. If you receive a signature challenge letter, please sign the letter and return to our office via mail or email as soon as possible. We will count your ballot as soon as we receive your signed letter.  Challenge letters must be received by the day before the election is certified for your ballot to be counted.

Are there laws in Washington regarding ballot harvesting (people collecting voted ballots and NOT returning them)?

  • No, not at this time.  It is the voters’ responsibility to return their ballot to the Auditor’s Office.  If they choose to give their ballot to someone to return it, it is their choice.

I missed the last few elections, can I still vote?

  • Yes, you can.  We will continue to mail a ballot to you, it is your choice to return it or not.  We will stop mailing ballots to you if the Post Office notifies us of an address change outside of Whatcom County OR if the mail was undeliverable.

Election Process FAQs

How do I know that my ballot is being safely handled when you receive it? Do you throw away ballots?

  • We take election security and privacy seriously – election integrity is paramount.
  • Ballots are NEVER thrown away.
  • Every step of the election process is open to public observation – no appointment necessary BUT we are limiting the number of observers permitted in our work areas.  Call ahead
  • All ballots and election materials are retained and archived in accordance with the law.

How does the elections department process my ballot securely?

  • It is essential to the integrity of an election that ballot processing be accurate and transparent, while maintaining your right to a secret ballot. After you return your voted ballot, our department follows this ballot counting process:
  1. Your signature on the outer return envelope is checked against the signature on file in your voter registration record to make sure they match.
  2. You are credited for voting in that election. This ensures that only one ballot from each voter is counted.
  3. The outer return envelope, which identifies you, is then separated from the inner security envelope, which contains your voted ballot. Your ballot cannot be traced back to you, ensuring the secrecy of your vote.
  4. All ballots are inspected to make sure the tabulating machine will be able to read all votes. Tabulation equipment is tested before every election to make sure it is working accurately.

  • The above steps continue with all ballots until the election is certified.

Can I watch ballots being processed?

  • Yes, all steps of processing ballots are open for public observation. When there is an active election there is a live feed 24 hours a day from webcams located in the election center. The public is can also observe in-person. There is a training for those wanting to observe in-person that can be viewed here.

Can someone know how I voted? 

  • No, the choices you make on your ballot are private.  We do not know how you voted.  We keep track if you returned a ballot for each election, NOT how you voted in each election.

I’m concerned about my privacy. What is the safest way to return my ballot?

  • There are many laws and regulations in place regarding transportation of ballots within the United States Postal System. However, if you are worried about your ballot we recommend using one of our designated ballot drop boxes. Boxes are emptied by election staff and transported in sealed containers directly to our ballot processing center.

Can anyone propose an initiative or referenda to be placed on a ballot?

  • Yes, the initiative and referendum process gives voters the right to legislate. The Initiatives and Referendum Handbook is a manual designed to guide citizens through the process. Go to the Initiative and Referendum page to find more resources.

How can I learn more about legislation that affects the election process?

  • The Citizen Election Advisory Committee (CEAC) typically meets once a year and the Auditor briefs the committee on proposed legislation and the members of CEAC discuss how the legislation might affect citizens. These meetings are open to the public and you can learn more about the committee here.