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10 Ways to Prepare for an Election

Here are ten ways to prepare for any upcoming election. The tips may differ depending on the city, county and state where you live, so we have included some national resources for those that live outside King County (Washington State).

If at any point you need help (accessibility concerns or otherwise), contact your local elections office for help:

  • King County (WA): 206-296-vote
  • United States: 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 888-VE-Y-VOTA.

Please share any election preparation tips you have to [email protected].


Are you Eligible to Vote?

To register to vote in the state of Washington, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • A legal resident of Washington state for at least 30 days prior to election day
  • At least 18 years old by election day
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
  • Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction

Not 18 years old?

If you meet all of the requirements, except you’re 16 or 17, you can pre-register to vote. Your registration will be held by the elections office until you become eligible to vote.


Check Your Voter Registration

Whether you registered last year or recently registered, make sure your registration was processed correctly – verify your name and address.

Sometimes people are purged from the rolls or simple computer glitches, so we encourage you to take a few minutes to check your registration.

To check in King County (Washington State), click here.

To check outside King County, click here.


Register to Vote

Unable to find your registration in the polls? Does your registration have your dead name, but your ID have your real name? Has your address changed?

These are just some of the reasons to register to vote.

Here are the things you need to register:

  • Complete a voter registration card online, in person, or print and mail it to the elections office.
  • King County (Washington State) | Provide a copy of an approved ID:
    • Driver’s license
    • State ID card
    • Student ID card
    • Tribal ID card
    • Employer ID card
  • Outside King County | Provide a copy of an approved ID:

Request an Early Vote (Absentee) Ballot

Contact your local elections office to request a printed vote early ballot or to vote online.

Even in the few states where ballots are sent automatically, you should still ensure your ballot has been sent and when to expect it. Sometimes there are computer glitches or mailing issues that arise, and you don’t want that to keep you from voting.

In King County (Washington State) you can call (206) 296-VOTE.

Outside King County you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.


Do Your Research

You’re halfway there to completing the your preparation for the election. But, this is one of the biggest steps of them all – know what you’re voting for.

Here are some ways to research the candidates and the referendums:

  • Vote411
  • Ballotpedia
  • Contact the candidates and their party to ask your questions
  • Read articles from trusted media sources who cite their sources or have media that is moderately edited


Follow All Ballot Instructions

Instructions will accompany your Vote Early (Absentee) ballot. Follow instructions as noted, ensure you’re using the correct marking tool (e.g. pen or pencil).

Remember to sign your envelope as well.

If you have further questions about how to complete your ballot and return it to your elections office, please call the following offices:

  • In King County (Washington State) you can call (206) 296-VOTE.
  • Outside King County you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.


Track Your Ballot

For early voting ballots, remember you can track your ballot from the elections office to your home and from your home to the office online.

If your ballot remains missing on Election Day, you may need to vote in person with a provisional ballot to ensure you only vote once. View the next step to learn more about voting in person.


Create a Backup Plan

If you made a mistake, your ballot is missing on Election Day, or you never received their ballot, you may need to visit a vote center on Election Day.

Remember to bring an active and in-state ID to your local vote center. Examples in King County (WA) include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State ID card
  • Student ID card
  • Tribal ID card
  • Employer ID card

Outside King County, check for accepted IDs here at and visit the vote center assigned for your address.

In some states you may need to request a provisional ballot that will be counted once the election office verifies that you have only submitted one ballot.

Other scenarios:

I made a mistake on my ballot.

Work with your local elections office to correct any errors.

I don’t have an ID.

Request a provisional ballot and you can still vote. Work with your elections office after Election Day to validate your ballot and it will be counted.


Remind Your Community to Vote

Remember to remind your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to register to vote by the registration deadline, and vote in-person or drop off your ballot by Election Day at 8 pm.

To verify dates in King County (WA), click here.


Wait for the Election Results

Now it’s time to see who won the popular vote. Watch your local TV stations and most news stations to view the results as they come in from your state and others across the United States.

Regardless of the results, this is the time for you to celebrate your voice being heard and to build a plan to get further involved with civic engagement if preferred. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Run for office (local, county, statewide, or federal)
  • Volunteer/Work on a candidate’s campaign
  • Volunteer/Work for a campaign/lobbying or voter registration organization
  • Volunteer/Work for a group that covers the elections
  • Organize your own voter drive
  • Get others in your community involved in civic engagement