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Monday, September 22, 2008

Registration Reminder

posted by on September 22 at 12:05 PM

UPDATE: This information in this post has been clarified here.

From an email a friend is circulating:

Since 2006, Washington’s Republican Secretary of State has canceled more than 450,000 voter registrations in an effort to “clean up” the voter rolls. Sure, many are duplicate registrations or persons who moved out of state. But many are persons who think they’re properly registered and intend to vote in November. I personally know people this has happened to!

It doesn’t take much to get removed from the voter rolls. You may have been removed if, for example:

(1) you haven’t voted in a long time,
(2) your signature on your absentee ballot envelope wasn’t deemed a match with the signature on your registration card, or
(3) your absentee ballot was returned by the post office (the post office doesn’t forward ballots to your new address).

Everyone should check to make sure you are currently registered at your current address. You can do this online, and in most cases you can update your registration online. But you must make any changes by October 4!

Please take a minute to check your registration by clicking here.

Please forward this message to your friends and family! Everyone should check their registration before October 4!


RSS icon Comments


I'm so glad Slog is finally posting on this! I sent in a SlogTip over a month ago reporting this exact problem. Our ballots were returned by the USPS in April (who knows why). There was no notification of any kind that our registration status had been affected.

Here's the important part: don't depend on the web page to fix it. CALL. I had to call the King County Elections office to get this fixed--the state folks couldn't/wouldn't help me. (though they were friendly and did answer the phone right away)

Everyone used to ballots just showing up should realize that on the eve of a pretty damn important election yours might not.

Check your status now and tell your friends to do the same.

Posted by MJ | September 22, 2008 12:27 PM

Didn't the Stranger endorse this Repug for Secretary of State? What's up with that??

Posted by Lloyd Cooney | September 22, 2008 12:34 PM

Who the F****** is the idiot that can't spell for the save the life of James J. KILPATRICKS ETTICUT SIDESNOW AMBULATOERT grammer contestants sidekick????


Posted by anonymus | September 22, 2008 12:36 PM

Welp, I recently moved across state, and the post office forwarded my ballot for the primary to my new address.

Wha's up with that?

Posted by Fillip | September 22, 2008 12:42 PM

Anyone else getting a weird login when you try to access the site? You can cancel the password request and get there anyway, but it's confusing.

Posted by bohica | September 22, 2008 12:45 PM

should i be worried if i haven't gotten a ballot since the viaduct special election? i haven't moved. we were supposed to get a primary ballot or something, right?

Posted by jrrrl | September 22, 2008 12:45 PM

King County Elections is the biggest bunch of disenfranchising douchebags through sheer incompetence.

They moved to Renton, and didn't even leave a "community service" desk in downtown Seattle. They have a dozen in BFE places all over the county, but nothing in Seattle.

If you're ballot is challenged, they send you a notice of what you have to mail back to get it fixed. That notice took 3 USPS days to get from them to me. The deadline to return what they needed was 1 USPS day away. So if you didn't figure out their new office was in Renton, leaving noone behind in the largest city in the County, you had to figure out how to get to a really obscure place in Renton that doesn't have bus service. Yay, good going, not everybody is able to drive.

Their signature validation policy is absurd, and probably illegal by ADA standards. People with Parkinson's Disease are perfectly competent to make their own decisions and live their life, but they can't make their signature match twice across several years. King County Elections thinks otherwise competent people should be humiliated by their disability and find two other people (who aren't validated by King County Elections as being real or different or competent people) to also sign their ballot.

Their "scenario" for using signatures as the ballot validation totally falls apart. "What if you were dead?" asked the clerk? "What stops your relatives from mailing in your ballot?" To which I replied "Nothing, and your request for me to mail a photocopy of my ID and the signatures of two other people doesn't stop people from mailing in ballots for dead people either."

They are fuckups, unthinking Soviet style paper pushers who can't think their way out of a paperbag and can't mail forms to people to send back in a timely manner - and they blame that on the voter.

Posted by StC | September 22, 2008 12:59 PM

Yes, jrrrl, you should definitely be concerned. There've been four elections in Seattle since the viaduct election -- primary and general in 2007, presidential and regular primaries in 2008.

Rather than go to the Secretary of State's website, everyone should check with their county's elections office. That's who actually does the voter registration.

In King County, that would be the Voter Registration page. Enter your name and birthdate into the Your Voter Guide box in the righthand column, then click "Submit". If it doesn't return your name and current, find the appropriate category on the above-referenced page and follow the instructions. ASAP!

Posted by N in Seattle | September 22, 2008 1:00 PM

@7 First, yeah, I realize this is easy for me to say since I'm presently sitting about half a mile from KCE, but bear with me.

For Renton, Grady Way is anything but obscure. Second, without looking I can tell you that the 140 stops right in front of KCE which you can transfer to from the 101, 150, or the Sounder from Seattle.

Posted by Mike of Renton | September 22, 2008 1:15 PM

Well, I'm grateful that it's easy to check my voting status, but does it concern anyone else that the only information someone needs to look at your voting history is the

1) correct spelling of your first and last name
2) your birthday


Posted by tabletop_joe | September 22, 2008 1:16 PM

Does anyone else find it scary that I can look up someone's address and voting history if I know their birthday? So far I've found the birthdays of some Stranger staffers and Slog commenters just by Googling. If I also had their exact age I could look up addresses and which elections they have voted in.

I guess the moral of the story is be careful with your full name and complete birthdate on the internet.

Posted by w7ngman | September 22, 2008 1:22 PM

You can also find out someone's exact age if you are willing to plug in a bunch of dates until you get a hit.

I just guessed a Stranger staffer's age on the first try, already knowing thier MM/DD, and now I have their address and voting history.

Be afraid, people.

Posted by w7ngman | September 22, 2008 1:33 PM
Sorry, you have reached the voter guide lookup limit.

For security reasons we limit the number of lookups made per user. Please wait a few minutes or call us at 206-296-VOTE(8683) for assistance.

Looks to be based on IP address.

Posted by w7ngman | September 22, 2008 1:41 PM

Does no one think it's fucked up that you can get on there and change someone's address for their voting registration by knowing only their full name and birthday? Cause you can. And I think it's fucked up.

Posted by johnnie | September 22, 2008 1:42 PM

My registration shows up as inactive on the website, even though I updated my address on the website several weeks ago. Any idea what the easiest way to reactivate is?

Posted by jkjk | September 22, 2008 1:45 PM

I called to verify my new address after submitting a change online, you know, just to be sure:



Telephone: (360) 902-4180
Toll-Free: (800) 448-4881
(800) 422-8683 TDD/TTY

Mail: PO Box 40229
Olympia, WA 98504-0229

520 Union Avenue SE

Posted by L-Sat | September 22, 2008 1:55 PM

Not only can you change registration info if you know someone's birthdate, both parties have lists of registered voters that include birthdates.

Combining those bits of information, a committed party activist (probably a Republican) could change the addresses of voters, targeting certain neighborhoods or matching with other databases, and then challenge suspicious addresses just prior to the election in order to disenfranchise voters with no time or method of recourse.

Be very afraid.

Posted by Cascadian | September 22, 2008 1:57 PM

#14 that's way fucked up. I didn't even see that you could change the address online.

P.S. I didn't change anyone's address (or look at voting histories) when I was mucking around.

Posted by w7ngman | September 22, 2008 1:59 PM

To change the address you have to put in a drivers license number.

Posted by jkjk | September 22, 2008 2:06 PM

Despite the way it looks, this email is totally not phishing. I went to that page from the Secretary of State main site and it's legit.

Posted by Greg | September 22, 2008 4:37 PM

A Washington DL # is easy to figure out. First four letters of last name (stars sub if not enough letters) + first intial+ middle intial+ (100-year you were born) + three random numbers/letters. Anybody whom has bounced knows this. I couldn't find Rossi's last name, but he was born in 59'. His DL# should read rossd?41xyz. It's scary to think that someone could change your polling address based on this.

Posted by Kat | September 22, 2008 5:48 PM

@ 21 - the "three random numbers/letters" are not all random - only 1 of them is. one of them represents your birth day, and one represents your birth month.

i learned this when, as a freshly licensed driver, i worked with my stepmonster (wife #2 for my pop) at defensive driving school - we had a little handy chart which showed which characters represented which days and months. only the digit immediately following the 100-your birth year figure is 'random' - chosen by the DOL's computer system.

Posted by jezbian | September 22, 2008 6:09 PM

#22, it's not actually random. It's a checksum based on the other digits.

(a1 - a2 + a3 - a4 + a5 - a6 + a7 - a8 + a9 - a11 + a12) mod 10

where a1 is the first character, a12 is the 12th, etc.

For non-digits, you use the following table:

* 4 A 1 B 2 C 3 D 4 E 5 F 6 G 7 H 8 I 9 J 1 K 2 L 3 M 4 N 5 O 6 P 7 Q 8 R 9 S 2 T 3 U 4 V 5 W 6 X 7 Y 8 Z 9
Posted by w7ngman | September 23, 2008 10:28 AM

@23: yes i found that out after visiting

Posted by jezbian | September 23, 2008 10:38 AM

i registered to vote about a month ago and have yet to receive my registration card. after reading this, i called the elections office to make sure everything had gone through. i was told there is a 30 day freeze after every election (the last one being on the 29th) so that no one can go in and add information after their vote. my information is "most likely" going to be processed but it would be "safe" to send in another application. okay so uhhh oct 4th is less than two weeks away, imma scurred. advice?

Posted by whomsRU | September 23, 2008 1:13 PM


I emailed them about this, as my registration was listed as "inactive" due to returned mail from my old addy. I updated the address, but it still listed me as inactive.

I got a very quick email reply confirming that I am, indeed, properly registered to vote in November.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 23, 2008 3:23 PM

Reason #2983465982346 not to vote by mail.

Posted by K | September 24, 2008 9:20 AM

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