Monday, July 24, 2017

Am I Eligible? Can I vote?

As I've been meeting and chatting around Bellingham WA this election season, more than any question about pertinent topics, has been this incredibly simple one. 


Can I vote?

The number of ways I've been asked this simple question is manifest.

Q: I'm just 18, and I'm attending college in the fall out of Bellingham. I should wait to register till I move, right?

A:
 You could wait but right now, you are here and you likely have family here.  By all means, register now for the primary vote in Bellingham,by Monday 7/24 by 4:15pm at the County Auditor's office inside the County Courthouse on Grand Street.
Then when you move, re-register if you choose.  Unless you are certain that the move is permanent, as a college student, you can remain registered at your family home.

Q: I'm going to be living abroad for at least a year, but I'll be back before the Presidential election.  No need to register now, is there?
Local Elections are more important for your day to day involvement with government. The local choices are who handle zoning, water rights, funding for housing and much more.
Please register as an abroad voter if you have one address while abroad, or register with a US address and make sure the folks at that address send you your ballot as soon as it arrives.  You will have just enough time to get it back to count.

Q: In my past life, I made some mistakes, resulting in a felony conviction.
I've been out for years, no parole or supervision.  I've heard once a felon, never a voter again.  
Is that true?
The quick answer is if you have completed your jail sentence and have no further interactions with the criminal justice system, then your ability to vote has been restored.
From the Secretary of Washington State website:

When the right to vote is restored

  • If you were convicted of a felony in a Washington State court, your right to vote is restored automatically once you are no longer under the authority of DOC (in prison or on community custody). If you have questions about your status with DOC, call at (800) 430-9674.
  • If you were convicted of a felony in another state or in federal court, your right to vote is restored automatically as long as you are not currently incarcerated for that felony.
  • You do not lose the right to vote for a misdemeanor conviction or a conviction in juvenile court.
  • You do not need a certificate of discharge (COD) to have your voting rights restored.
The right is restored but you do need to re-register to vote.
Time to go to the County Auditor for this primary cycle or use myvote.wa.gov for the general.

You can verify that you are registered on MyVote.wa.gov.
If you are, and have lost or damaged your ballot, you can use this site to print a replacement https://whatcomcounty.everyonecounts.com/page/73/99