Allegations of voter fraud have dominated news headlines lately. But are these claims plausible? Last year, King County Elections Director Julie Wise told the Seattle Times that claims of widespread voter fraud were “wrong. Not true. Inaccurate.” Secretary of State Kim Wyman also called them “baseless” and “irresponsible.” And Matthew Masterson, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, defended the 2016 General Election as being “extremely well administered.”
Data from the Brennan Center for Justice validate that assessment. Researchers interviewed elections administrators in 42 jurisdictions, including King County, and found that… “improper noncitizen votes accounted for 0.0001% of the 2016 votes [23.5 million] in those jurisdictions.”
In 2011, Washington State shifted to vote by mail. For every election in which you are eligible to vote, we mail you a ballot with measures and candidates specific to your address. While vote by mail has improved voter access for many, not all voting-age residents have a traditional address. In the 2016 King County One Night Count, over 10,000 people, the majority of which are of voting age, were counted as being homeless. These people are staying in many places ranging from encampments to emergency shelters and transitional housing. So how do they get access to voting?
When Washington became a state in 1889, state law established that each registered voter would receive a certification containing the following information:
Early voter registration cards established where a citizen lived and voted. The voter registration card you receive in the mail today provides similar information, but we’ve had some updates roll out in the meantime. Can you spot the differences?
- Today’s voter registration cards have your voter ID number. Your voter ID number is unique to you and allows us to easily locate your voter registration file anytime you have questions or need to update your voter information.
- In addition to your precinct, your voter card also displays congressional, legislative, county council and city council districts.
- Notice the reference to “he” in line 7. According to the Washington Secretary of State’s office, “in 1854, Washington nearly became the first state to grant women’s suffrage, but the proposal was defeated by a single vote.” It wasn’t until 1910 that Washington state amended its Constitution to grant women the right to vote, 10 years before the rest of the country!
Now that Washington is a vote-by-mail state, why do we need a voter registration card?
Your voter registration card serves not only as an acknowledgement of your registration but also gives you the opportunity to ensure that your name and address are correct. This is important because your address determines what measures and candidate races are on your ballot!
To learn more, check out The History of Elections and Voting in Washington.