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Election Officials Clean Up Dual-State Registration

Kate Elston

If you recently moved to Washington state and registered to vote here, you still could be on the voter rolls of the last state where you lived. In Washington, it's legal to be registered here and somewhere else. But as Kate Elston explains, that's not the case everywhere.


Let's say you're new to Washington. You got a new license and they canceled your old one. Then you registered to vote. What you may not know is your last registration is still on the books. You might only figure that out if you got two ballots in the mail.

Then what?

Shane Hamlin is the co–director for elections in Washington state. He has words of wisdom.

Hamlin: "Pick a state and vote in only that state's general election."

Hardly anyone actually votes twice. In 2009 officials in Washington and Oregon compared their voting rolls. They found 4,700 Washingtonians were registered in both states. But officials found just a handful had cast a vote twice.

That's a federal crime. In some states, just being registered twice is a crime, like in Alaska.

Hamlin says if you're not sure about the laws in your last state, call the last county where you lived and ask to be removed from voting rolls. Usually that will happen on its own, but it could take up to eight years.

Hamlin says a new 10–state database will make that process faster. The Electronic Registration Information Center will connect states to one another's identification records. If officials see a voter is registered in two states, they will send out a letter asking you to please pick one. Hamlin hopes that system will be ready before the November election.

I'm Kate Elston, KUOW News.

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