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Washington removes residency requirement for voter registration

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Credit: The Post Millennial.

Washington removes residency requirement for voter registration

People registering to vote are no longer required to have been a resident of Washington for 30 days and the requirement has already been removed from voter registration forms.

Excerpt from The Center Square:

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs’ Office has, through agency rulemaking, officially removed a residency requirement for registering to vote enshrined in the state’s original 1889 Constitution.

The rulemaking occurred after both Hobbs and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson agreed to a consent decree earlier this year to settle a 2023 lawsuit arguing that the constitutional provision violated federal law due to a 2018 state law.

Under Article VI, Section 1 of the Washington Constitution, a person must be a resident of Washington for 30 days “immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote” in order to register.

However, a November 2023 lawsuit filed by the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans argued that this residency requirement was in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, which prohibits residency requirements for people to participate in federal elections. In 2018, the state Legislature enacted Senate Bill 6021, which allows Washington voters to register to vote as late as 8 p.m. on Election Day.

According to the consent decree, “as a result of this change, Washington residents who have lived at a particular address longer than 30 days do not have to meet any durational limits to vote, while new residents must meet the 30-day Durational Residency Requirement.”

The consent decree stipulated that the residency requirement be removed, not just for federal elections but for state elections as well, “as long as the State does not impose a durational registration requirement to vote.” If the Legislature did impose that requirement before Aug. 1, then the 30-day residency requirement in the state Constitution would be allowed to remain.

If SOS’s rulemaking is allowed to remain through Aug. 1, the Legislature can still impose new residency requirements in the future and reinstate the constitutional provision, but the change would not take effect until after this year’s election season.


Posted by Steve on July 9, 2024 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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