New Voter Registration Rules Could Impact Lewis County Primary Races

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Residents of Lewis County and across Washington have more time than ever before to ensure they’re registered to vote in the upcoming primary election on Aug. 6.

A bill passed this year by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee made it so that, as of June 30, those eligible to vote could register in-person at their county auditor’s office or elections office as late as 8 p.m. on election night. The legislation also moved the deadline for registering online, by mail or through the department of motor vehicles from eight days before Election Day to 29 days prior.

Applications completed outside of the auditor’s office must be received no later than Monday. The forms are available at post offices, libraries, school district offices and online at votewa.gov. Those with questions should call the auditor’s office at 360-740-1278 or 360-740-1164.

“Anyone who lives here, even if they’re not currently registered in Washington, can come in on election night to transfer their address, change their address, and as long as they haven’t returned a ballot, we can issue one for them so they can vote,” said Heather Boyer, elections supervisor for Lewis County. “The primary isn’t a countywide election, so we’re just kind of playing it by ear to see what happens with this one in anticipation for the general election in November. We don’t typically have higher than a 40 percent turnout in an odd-year primary, but anything is possible, and we definitely expect it to have a large impact on the county for next year’s presidential election.”

Steven Hubbard, one of four candidates running to replace outgoing Centralia City Council member Joyce Barnes, said he believes the new voter registration rules will impact local races as soon as next month. The top two vote-getters in each primary race will advance to the general election in November, and with all four candidates being fairly new to the political scene, Hubbard believes the added time could prove to be a key component for the campaigns.

“We’re out actively doing voter registration right now,” Hubbard said. “I think when people can see all of the information on us and see the debates we have as part of our campaigns, the timeline being extended will open doors for people who didn’t know they could vote to get registered and do so.”

Lewis County does not produce a printed voter’s pamphlet for primary elections. Boyer said her office has never had the funding available to do so.

Citizens in search of more information about primary candidates for public office will find an online guide to Lewis County races at votewa.gov. Candidates had the ability to submit supplemental information to that guide if they chose. 

A generic version with basic information about every candidate can be found at elections.lewiscounty.wa.gov alongside details about ballot dropbox locations and contact information for candidates.

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