YOU DON’T NEED A HOUSE TO VOTE
A GUIDE FOR HOMELESS AND UNSTABLY HOUSED VOTERS
We have updated our Guide to voting for people who are homeless and unstably housed!
Click here to download a printable version.
2021 ELECTIONS EDITION
Q: I LIVE IN A PLACE (shelter/car/outside/boat/other) WHERE I CAN’T GET MAIL. CAN I VOTE?
A: YES, you can vote! Washington’s Constitution doesn’t require a “residence” as a condition of voting as long as a person meets all other registration requirements (Article VI Section 1); see below for other eligibility criteria requirements.
If you do not have a traditional residential address, you can still register to vote! Your residential address is the physical location where you spend most of your time. On a voter registration form, you can use the address of a shelter or park, or the location of a vehicle, intersection, or other identifiable location that you consider your current residence if you do not have a traditional residential address. This location is required and will be used to determine which precinct you will vote in.
Along with your residential address, you must also provide a valid mailing address. You need a mailing address in order to receive your ballot and election information on time. You could use a post office box, address of a friend or relative, shelter, day center, or CSO where you can get mail, or general delivery at a local post office.
Q: AM I
ELIGIBLE TO VOTE?
A: If you can answer YES to each of these statements, then you are eligible to vote:
- I am a U.S. Citizen.
- I will be at least 18 years old by or on Election Day.
- I will have lived in WA for 30 days before the election.
- I am not disqualified from voting due to a court order, and I am not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.
Q: I HAVE A MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION AND/OR A JUVENILE OFFENSE IN JUVENILE COURT. CAN I VOTE?
A: YES! You do not lose your right to vote for a misdemeanor or juvenile offense in Washington state.
Register to vote! There are three ways to register to vote in Washington:
- Online: Visit the VoteWA page to register online. The deadline to register online is 8 days prior to the day of the election. In 2021, the deadline to register to vote online for the August 3rd Primary Election is July 26, 2021. The deadline to register to vote online for the November 2nd General Election is October 25, 2021. Note that you need a valid Washington driver’s license or ID to register online.
- By Mail: Fill out a paper voter registration form and return to your local county election office. The elections office must receive your paper registration form 8 days prior to the election. To vote in the August 3rd Primary Election, King County Elections must receive your paper form by July 26, 2021. To vote in the November 2nd General Election, King County Elections must receive your paper form by October 25, 2021.Visit the Secretary of State website to print one out or find forms in languages other than English.
- In Person: The deadline to register in-person at the King County Elections Office or Vote Center is 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you still aren’t registered to vote, need to update their registration, or get a new ballot, visit a Vote Center to register and vote in the days leading up to and on Election Day.
How to get voter registration forms:
- For Individuals: Pick up a voter registration form at a public library, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Vote Center, or King County Elections office. You can also download and print a voter registration form in your preferred language.
- For Service Sites: you can request up to 250 paper voter registration forms from the Secretary of State office for your site.
Tips for filling out a voter registration form for homeless and unstably housed individuals:
Residential Address: Your residential address is required; if you don’t have one, use the address of a shelter or park; you can also use a vehicle location, intersection, or another location that you consider your current residence if you do not have a traditional residential address. It needs to be identifiable on a map. Provide as complete of an address as possible (ex: 4th Ave & Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98104).
Mailing Address:You MUST provide a mailing address because your ballot will be mailed to you. You can use one of the following
- Address of a friend or relative where you can regularly pick up mail
- Address of shelter or day center where you access services and can receive mail
- General Delivery: General Delivery mail is held for 30 days. You must have ID to pick up mail. You do not have to pre-register to use this service. You can only use General Delivery at a city ‘s MAIN post office, often during limited hours. Write [your name], General Delivery, [city], WA. The main Seattle post office is located at 3rd & Union St. The address is General Delivery, Seattle, WA 98101-9999.
organizations provide mail services:
Compass Housing Alliance-CSO
77 S. Washington St., Seattle, WA 98104
M-F 9am – 4pm
You do not need to pre-register for mail service. Holds mail for 2 weeks. Holds DSHS mail for 30 days.
Ballard Food Bank
5130 Leary Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107
T, W, TH 11am – 3pm
You do not need to pre-register for mail service. You must have a photo ID to pick-up mail. Holds mail for 3 months.
Holds DSHS mail for 30 days.
Georgetown Food Bank (St. Vincent de Paul)
5972 4th Avenue So., Seattle, WA 98108
T, TH 11am – 2pm (open to all)
F 11am-12pm (homeless guests only)
You must file “Change of Address“ with the post office and register at the Food Bank before you can use this address.
Holds mail for 10 days.
Returning your voter registration form
Mail your paper form: Return to King County Elections, 919 SW Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057, or your local county elections office. Your registration must be received by King County Elections 8 days before the date of the election to get your ballot in the mail.
Return your completed form in person: Return to King County Voter Registration Annex, King County Elections, or a Vote Center (information available 30 days prior to election date). Your registration must be received in-person by 8 p.m. on Election day. We suggest that people arrive with at least a few hours to spare on Election Day to ensure time to wait in line, be registered, receive a ballot, and vote.
2021 General Election: Tuesday, November 3, 2021
ONCE YOU ARE REGISTERED, YOUR BALLOT WILL BE MAILED TO YOU AT THE MAILING ADDRESS YOU PROVIDED 20 DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION.
Complete the ballot and sign your name. If you do not receive your ballot by 10 days before the election please call 206-296-VOTE (8683) or visit King County Elections’ website. You will have the option to print a new ballot, be mailed a new ballot, or be sent to a Vote Center on or leading up to election day (see below). You can also visit a Vote Center or King County Elections office in Renton where they can help you print a new ballot.
MAIL OR DROP OFF YOUR BALLOT
Your ballot MUST be postmarked (no stamp needed since ballots have pre-paid postage) by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day or dropped at a Drop Box by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Drop Box location information is in your ballot packet, and online here.
VOTE CENTERS (IN-PERSON VOTING)
Vote Centers. King County Vote Centers typically open 18-20 days before an election and are available to register new voters (through election day), update current voter records, provide replacement ballots, and help voters who need in-person assistance. Info related to Vote Centers available here.
King County Elections has over 60 drop boxes available for voters to turn in ballots around the county. Drop box locations can be found at www.tinyurl.com/KCBallotDropBoxes. There will also be a list of drop boxes in your ballot packet. Drop boxes open on the day that ballots are mailed out. Make sure your ballot is in a drop box BEFORE 8 p.m. on Election Day for your vote to be counted!
You can also mail your ballot in its envelope via the US Postal Service. No stamp is needed since the ballot return envelope has pre-paid postage! If mailing in your ballot it must be postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, August 4, 2020 (make sure to pay close attention to what time the mailbox you use has mail picked up).