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Elections and Voting

How to use government information basic information for assignments, research, and your own personal use during elections and to vote as an informed citizen.

Why we vote

Elections and voting are American rights under our U.S. Constitution.  The 12th Amendment provides the procedure for the national election of the U.S. President and Vice-President, replacing the process in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 which outlined the original function of the Electoral Colleges. The 2010 decennial census altered the States' weight within the Electoral College through reapportionment which determines how many places or "seats" each state receives based on how their population.  As a state's population grows, it gets more "seats' within the Electoral College, thus more votes.  As the population declines, the states lose votes. 

Here are a some articles to help bring perspective on why Americans vote the way they do.  Remember, these are opinion pieces, not necessarily research articles.

Why Do People Vote I? Voting is a supremely irrational act by Satoshi Kanazawa. Posted Nov 08, 2009 on Psychology Today blog.

Why Do People Vote II? Whether you vote depends on who won the previous election by Satoshi Kanazawa. Posted Nov 22, 2009 on Psychology Today blog.

Why Do People Vote III? Maybe we vote because we think like cavemen by Satoshi Kanazawa. Posted Nov 29, 2009 on Psychology Today blog.

What Good Are Elections Anyway? Elections are terrible mechanisms for holding politicians accountable, but voting is important for democracy anyway by Jennifer Victor. Posted on on Vox.

Voter Registration Forum, September 22, 2020

ASCWU and CWU Libraries hosted a virtual forum on National Voter Registration Day to discuss some of the challenges and issues related to voter registration and elections this year due to the pandemic and the online environment.  Watch or listen to this forum.

Washington Voter Rules

Eligibility, Washington State

  • Age: At least 16 and turning 18 before Election Day
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals: Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Residence: A legal resident of Washington State
  • College students can either vote absentee in their home state or register to vote in WA if they have lived in WA for at least 30 days and have established a residential address in WA.
  • Check to see if you are already registered.

For more information, please visit the Washington Secretary of State website.


  • Voter registration deadlines are determined by the date of the election.
  • Online and mail registration must be received 8 days before Election Day.
  • Register to vote in person during business hours at a county elections department and any time before 8:00 PM on Election Day.
  • Election Calendar

ID Requirements for Registration

Online Registration

To use the online voter registration system you will need a current Washington State driver's license, permit or ID card. If you do not have any of these, you may still register by mail or in person.

Online registration portal.

Mail-in Registration

An ID is not required for mail-in registration, but you must provide one of the documents listed on the form to verify residence:

  • Driver’s license number, OR
  • Last four digits of Social Security number

Mail-in Registration

Updating registration      

To update registration after a move or name change use the voter registration form.

Cancelling registration

You may voluntarily cancel your Washington State voter registration by completing this form and returning it to your county elections department.

Other states voter registration deadlines

If you are not a resident in Washington state, there are several places to check to verify your voter registration and deadlines including and  Voting & Election Toolkits from GODORT, the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association.