New to Washington?

Maybe you noticed … Things are a little different here.

Voter registration: We’re a motor voter state … You will be registered to vote when you get a driver’s license. The signature on your DL is used to verify your vote. Voter registration is open in every election right up until the time the poll closes.

The ballot: Your ballot is mailed to your voting address three weeks before election day. It must be postmarked by election day. You can return it postage free or put it in a ballot drop.

Political parties: Washington voters do not register by party. The primary is open, that is, you can vote for any candidate, no matter which party. The candidates may be endorsed by political party organizations, but “nominations” are rare. Candidates can name any party as their preferred party in partisan races, or even make one up.

County government: In Washington, most counties have government as described by the state constitution. There are three county commissioners who share executive and legislative authority. Other elective offices include Prosecuting Attorney (who may serve also as Coroner), Auditor, Treasurer, Assessor, and Clerk. All of these offices are partisan. In some counties (such as Clallam), there is a County Charter, sometimes called a Home Rule Charter. Charter counties don’t have additional authority, but they can modify their government. Clallam County has stuck fairly close to the commissioner form of government, made all but the commissioners positions non-partisan, and made the public development director’s position elective.

Cities: City government is non-partisan. Most small cities have a “weak mayor” system. The city council elects a Mayor, but day-to-day executive decisions are left to a council-hired professional city manager.

Primary elections: