Lawmakers Make Registering to Vote in WA Easier
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Washingtonians will soon find it even easier to register to vote.
Passed this session, Senate Bill 5112 automatically makes people applying for enhanced driver's licenses eligible to vote.
Alex Alston, consultant for the Washington Voting Justice Coalition, said a number of communities in the state will benefit from the legislation.
"We know that Black and brown communities and folks with socio-economic barriers are often those who are left out of the system," Alston pointed out. "Moving towards a more automatic voter registration system is something that the state's been working towards."
While Washington has made it easy to vote in many respects, including with all-mail elections, lawmakers say nearly 1 million eligible Washingtonians are not registered. After registering them, the state will send a notice in the mail giving people the chance to opt out.
The measure only applies automatic voter registration to people who prove their U.S. citizenship. Alston noted it ensures people not eligible to vote are not inadvertently signed up.
"We don't want inadvertent mistakes that would have negative immigration consequences for someone or their families," Alston emphasized.
Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon have adopted similar automatic registration measures. The law goes into effect July 23.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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