Here in Washington state, we’re lucky to be able to vote by mail — especially amid COVID-19 safety concerns and voter suppression issues happening in other states (such as long lines and attempted limitations on dropbox locations). Longtime Washingtonians are familiar with the process, but for teens perhaps voting for the first time, it’s a whole new world. Here are some key tips for making sure their ballot is counted in this year’s presidential election.
Make sure you’re registered to vote.
Washington votes by mail in every election. If you’re registered, the state will automatically send your ballot by mail. Quickly check your registration status here.
Every household should also receive the General Election Voters’ Pamphlet. It’s a good idea to read through the pamphlet as soon as it arrives, so when your ballot lands, you’re ready to vote!
Once you receive your ballot, vote early!
Washingtonians’ ballots are due on Election Day, the first Tuesday in November. They should be postmarked no later than Nov. 3, 2020, or dropped in a ballot dropbox by 8 p.m. on Election Day. That said, many experts are urging voters to vote as early as possible to: 1) make sure that if there’s an issue with your ballot, there’s time to fix it and; 2) to minimize overwhelming the system on Election Day. If you're going to use a ballot box as opposed to a mailbox, make sure it's an official ballot box.
It’s important to read and follow all instructions carefully and doublecheck your ballot before you send it, as there are a handful of ballot disqualifiers. Make sure you keep your ballot safe from drink and food stains, too!
Use the correct pen.
Ballot scanners can only recognize certain kinds of ink. Do not use markers, red ink or other uncommon writing materials. Use a pen with blue or black ink only.
Use the correct signature.
The most common reason for rejection is failure to sign, so first of all: SIGN YOUR ENVELOPE! And make sure it’s the correct signature. Believe it or not, your signature can be a disqualifier if it doesn’t match the signature that the state has on file. This was an issue among younger voters in previous elections, so make sure your signature resembles the one on your voter registration record.