Chapter one: How to register to vote
Before you can vote in Washington state, you must register. Registration can be done several ways: Online, by mail or in person.
To register online you'll need your Washington state driver's license or ID. Visit Votewa.gov and submit your information.
To register in person, visit your county election office (the Elections Division is open for curbside service during the pandemic).To register to vote, you must be:
- A citizen of the United States
- A legal resident of Washington state
- At least 18 years old by Election Day
- Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
- Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.
Chapter two: Dates and deadlines
You can still register to vote in the general election, but at this point you need to go to your county elections office and register in person. You can register in-person until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Ballots must be returned to an official ballot drop box or post-marked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Ballots were mailed to registered voters by Oct. 16, giving voters at least 18 days to fill out and return their ballots.
People could register to vote online or by mail through Oct. 26.
Chapter three: Voting by mail
Washington has been a vote by mail state since 2011.
Registered voters do not need to request a ballot. Ballots are automatically mailed to the address the voter has registered.
Confirm your registration at VoteWA.gov.
Completed ballots can be dropped off at an official drop box or by mail. Stamps are not needed to mail a completed ballot.
Ballots must be deposited or postmarked by Election Day. The USPS recommends voters mail ballots a week prior.
Ballots must be signed. Signatures are checked against voter registration records.
Eligible voters are sent a ballot at least 18 days before Election Day.
Ballots are placed in a security envelope or sleeve.
The security envelope or sleeve is then put in to a return envelope and signed.
Ballots have pre-paid postage and are returned through the mail or at ballot drop boxes. (If mailed, it must be postmarked by Election Day). Drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Chapter four: Tracking your ballot
After dropping off or mailing a ballot, voters can track the status of their ballot by visiting VoteWA.gov.
Voters must sign in.
On the navigation bar, select "Ballot Status."
Information includes when the ballot was sent, when it was returned, and its current status.
Chapter five: How ballots are processed
After a ballot is delivered, envelopes are scanned and marked as "received" in the state system.
They are sorted by precinct and district.
Signatures on ballots are checked against voter registration records. (Voters are contacted before processing if a signature is missing or doesn't match)
Envelopes are opened and the security sleeve is removed.
Ballots are removed from the security sleeve.
Ballots are reviewed for scanning issues, then scanned and stored.
Chapter six: Key races
Local and national races will appear on your ballot.
Here's a look at some of the key races in Washington state:
Incumbent Jay Inslee is seeking his third term as governor of Washington state.
In his official candidate statement, Inslee says the state recovered from the last recession to become the country's No. 1 rated economy under his leadership and it is "poised to rebound more quickly" thanks to his "progressive policies."
Currently serving as chief of police in Republic, challenger Loren Culp gained notoriety when he publicly denounced Washington state's stricter gun control laws created under Initiative 1639. He argues that his background in business and the military gives him a well-rounded candidacy.
Washington state's governor is elected to a four-year term.
Denny Heck, who spent four terms in Congress, served on the House Intelligence Committee, Joint Economic Committee, and Financial Services Committee. He previously served in the Washington state House, was chief of staff to Governor Booth Gardner and was the co-founder and CEO of TVW.
Marko Liias has served as the State Senate Floor Leader since 2018, a state senator since 2014, and served as a state representative of the 21st District between 2008 and 2014.
Lieutenant governors serve a four-year term.
Secretary of State
Wyman, who previously served for more than a decade as Thurston County Auditor, says her "critical responsibility" is to "inspire public confidence in Washington's elections."
Tarleton has represented the 36th Legislative District since 2013. She previously served as Seattle Port commissioner from 2008-2013 and Seattle Port Commission president before her election to the State House. In her candidate statement, she says voter rights and election security are "under attack" and we need a secretary of state who will "boldly defend" votes and voters.
The secretary of state serves a four-year term.
Incumbent Duane Davidson is wrapping up his first term as state treasurer. He was previously treasurer in Benton County between 2003-2016.
Challenger Mike Pellicciotti's experience includes serving as a state representative and a member of the House Capital Budget Committee.
State treasurers serve four-year terms.
Incumbent Patrice (Pat) McCarthy is serving her first term as state auditor. She previously served as Pierce County executive from 2009-2016, Pierce County auditor from 2003-2008, and Tacoma school director from 1987-1999.
Chris Leyba spent 11 years as a police officer and detective and three years as a law enforcement performance auditor. His candidate bio includes no previous experience as an elected official.
State auditors serve four-year terms.
State Attorney General
Incumbent Bob Ferguson has served as Washington state's attorney general for eight years. A fourth generation Washingtonian, he has led other states in lawsuits against the federal government, big tobacco, and opioid suppliers. He previously served as a law clerk for two federal judges and worked as an attorney advocating for taxpayers and businesses at Preston, Gates & Ellis.
Challenger Matt Larkin says he is "not a career politician" but will "bring a fresh perspective to the Office of Attorney General." On his bio, Larkin says he's a veteran attorney licensed in Washington and Oregon, "attorney in the White House for former U.S. President, Prosecuted in Pierce and Spokane counties, Chief Legal Counsel for my family’s 3rd generation manufacturing company."
State attorneys general serve four-year terms.
Commissioner of Public Lands
Incumbent Hilary Franz is serving her first term as commissioner of public lands, which she was elected to in 2017. She previously served on the Bainbridge Island City Council, Puget Sound Transportation Futures Task Force, Puget Sound Regional Council Economic Development Board, and Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council.
Former chair of the Grays Harbor Republican Party Sue Kuehl Pederson is a fisheries biologist who has worked at the University of Washington, NOAA Fisheries, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Fish and Wildfire, King County Department of Natural Resources, and more.
Commissioner of public lands serves a four-year term.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Incumbent Chris Reykdal is serving his first term as superintendent of public instruction. He previously served as a local school board director and as a legislator. In his bio, he highlights five key points: getting through the pandemic, enhancing student support, improving kindergarten readiness, building more career and technical education programs, and making sure rural communities have equitable access to resources.
Maia Espinoza says that while she is not a politician, she would bring "much-needed" perspective to the state's education system. Previous work and experience includes being a business owner, school teacher and serving on the OSPI Student Data Task Force and Opportunity Gap Oversight Committee. She says "now is our chance to re-imagine a better education system because the status quo is no longer an option."
The state superintendent of public instruction is a four-year term.
Incumbent Mike Kreidler has served as insurance commissioner since 2001, previously serving as a school board member, state representative, state senator and member of Congress.
Chirayu Avinash Patel says if elected, insurance commissioner would be his first elected position as he is now of age to hold office. A fully-licensed insurance agent, he has been involved in the industry for 21 years.
Insurance commissioners serve four-year terms.
Representatives for Washington state's 10 Congressional Districts serve two-year terms. Click here for a map of Washington state's Congressional districts.
The following candidates are on the ballot:
District 1 serves: King, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom counties.
Suzane Delbene has served as U.S. representative of King, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom Counties since 2012. Also serves on the Ways and Means Committee and Select Committee to Modernize Congress.
"During this pandemic, families across the 1st Congressional District are struggling and concerned about the future. Now more than ever, we need strong leadership that’s focused on helping those in need, protecting health and safety and restoring our economy," she wrote in her candidate bio.
Challenger Jeffery Beeler, Sr. has served on the Sultan City Council since 2009, LEOFF1 Board since 2016, and as a precinct committee officer since 2019. He previously served on the Puget Sound Regional Council Transportation Policy between 2014-15.
"Congress is supposed to represent you and work to solve the problems that matter most. Immigration remains broken, Social Security runs out of money by 2035, and our national debt grows by Trillions of dollars every year. It's also clear our nation needs to become more self-reliant, manufacturing more vital goods here and not sending jobs and money overseas," he wrote in his candidate bio.
District 2 serves: Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom counties.
Rick Larsen has served as U.S. representative of District 2 since 2000. He was previously employed by the Port of Everett and Washington State Dental Association.
"I am inspired by the strength and resilience of workers, families, students and small business owners across Northwest Washington, whose experiences drive me to fight for an economy that works for everyone.
"In our region, that means bringing middle class families better jobs and higher wages, and addressing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am focused on putting the middle class and workers first, fighting climate change and protecting our environment, increasing access to health care and protecting the right to vote," he wrote in his bio.
Timothy Hazelo says his elected experience includes serving as a precinct and county Republican delegate. Other experience includes 20 years as a U.S. Navy Veteran, a CFO of Best Care Homes Inc., investment advisor, and more.
"As a retired Navy Combat Aircrewman, corporate businessman, and involved citizen, Tim wants to bring the people’s perspective back to DC. Tim recognizes Americans deserve accountability and a leaner government that prioritizes upholding the Constitution and serving its citizens. He will work for the People of the 2nd Congressional District, not for lobbyists or PACS," his statement reads.
District 3 serves: Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, Wahkiakum counties.
Jamie Herrera Beutler was appointed to the House of Representatives in 2007 and elected in 2008. She was elected to represent Congressional District 3 in 2010 and has served since.
"Serving Southwest Washington families and communities is my mission. I listen to you, and I stand up to both political parties including my own to put our region’s needs first. Of Washington’s 12 members of Congress, I’ve been ranked “most effective” for championing solutions for jobs, affordable health care and preserving the way of life that makes our area special," she wrote in her bio.
Challenger Carolyn Long who says she's running for Congress because southwest Washington "deserves someone fighting for us in D.C." She has taught at WSU Vancouver since 1995 and grew up working at her family's business, John's Fresh Produce, before working a union job at Safeway and waitressing at Red Robin.
"This has been a challenging year for many Southwest Washington families. It shows what happens when career politicians ignore us and fail to plan ahead. That’s why I’ve promised never to take a dime from corporate interests," she wrote in her bio.
District 6 serves: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce counties.
Derek Kilmer has served as a U.S. Representative in District 6 since 2013. He serves on the Appropriates Committee, Select Committee on Modernization of Congress, and the Bipartisan Working Group.
"Having worked in economic development for a decade, I’m committed to helping our region’s economic recovery, supporting small businesses, and getting folks back to work. I helped write legislation passed by Democrats and Republicans to support our region’s recovery from coronavirus. It provided cash to families, rent and mortgage relief, and assistance to students, small businesses, and the unemployed; but more is needed," he wrote in his bio.
Elizabeth Kreiselmaier's previous elected experience includes serving as a precinct committee officer. Other experience includes program evaluation and research at WestEd/Far West Laboratory as a program director and research scientist at Oregon Research Institute, and more.
"House leadership has pushed a big-government agenda that’s killed jobs, rewarded wrong behaviors, and spawned crushing debt and bureaucratic bloat. House Democrats, along with our current Representative who votes in lockstep with the worst of them, have gotten way off course. The House has been rife with dirty tricks and foul play. Our children’s future is on the line.
"I’m a Mom on a Mission to Clean Up The House. I’m commended by all six Counties’ Republican Parties, current and former legislators, and community leaders. I ask for your vote," she wrote in her bio.
District 7 serves: King, Snohomish counties.
Pramila Jayapal began serving as a U.S. representative of District 7 in 2017. Before that, she served as a state senator between 2015-2017. She is the founder and executive director of OneAmerica, director of PATH Fund for Technology Transfer, and a financial analyst and author.
"I am proud to represent and fight for our community in Congress. I came to America by myself when I was 16, and I have been a Seattle resident for thirty years. As your U.S. Representative, I am focused on ensuring everyone has quality health care, securing workers’ rights, protecting our environment and public lands, welcoming immigrants, fighting for reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, making college debt-free, and expanding Social Security and Medicare," she wrote in her bio.
Craig Keller has served as a precinct committee officer for 26 years, previously interning in Congress in 1984. He represents manufacturers of earthquake protection devices, manages investment portfolios and "helped save Seattle Sorbets and even picked apples on fall."
"This is serious! Time to wash our hands of those who would exploit pandemic to 'carjack' our medical and drug development businesses. Elect me to Congress to defend America's medical professionals and manufacturers who save lives. Trust MD Fauci.
"I will defend your employment opportunities and wages by voting mandatory E-verify to block SSN thieves. I will also defend aspiring tech graduates by halting the abusive flood of H-1B visas (who pay no SS as American workers must). I will defend the quality and supply of medicines by voting to restore U.S. production," he wrote in his bio.
District 8 serves: Chelan, King, Kittitas, Pierce counties.
Kim Schrier was elected in 2019. She serves on the Education & Labor Committee and Agriculture Committee. She was a pediatrician for 17 years in Issaquah.
"As the first pediatrician and the only female doctor in Congress, I have worked to protect children and shape national healthcare policy. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have advocated unambiguously for increased testing, protective equipment for our healthcare professionals and frontline workers, and support for families and small businesses," she wrote in her bio.
Jesse Jensen is running as a first-time candidate for elected office "with a well-rounded background that will aid in representing all constituents within the 8th District." He's worked as a director at a health care company and program management in technology business operations. He's a former captain in the U.S. Army Special Operations.
"I decided to run for Congress because too many in D.C. have failed to be servants to the people. My military background combined with my experience working in the Private sector, managing healthcare facilities, and passion for servant leadership has prepared me to serve you in Congress.
"I’m prepared to fight for Veterans, Small Business Owners, and workers. The people of the diverse 8th Congressional District deserve someone in Capitol Hill who will represent them. I plan to focus on creating middle class prosperity by limiting runaway spending and onerous regulations. I will fight to defeat the Socialist ideologies on the radical left while lowering the cost of healthcare and protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions," he wrote in his bio.
District 9 serves: King, Pierce counties.
Adam Smith has served as representative of District 9 since 1997. Prior to that he was a state senator from 1991-1997. He was prosecutor for the city of Seattle and an attorney prior to that.
"As our nation faces unprecedented challenges, I am focused on strengthening the middle class, ensuring equality of opportunity for all, and investing in our future. We must provide a progressive path forward where everyone can thrive. Working class families, like the union one I grew up in, do not have the same opportunities as previous generations. This must change. We must grow from the middle out, increase economic opportunities, protect unions, make higher education more affordable and accessible, and provide good paying jobs," he wrote in his bio.
Doug Basler has served as an elected precinct committee officer, senior vice chair of the King County Republican Party and worked on political campaigns prior to that.
"I believe public service should be like 'jury duty,' regular people like you and I should go and serve for a while, then return home and live under the laws we helped pass. That’s real accountability. Career politicians are the biggest problem in government today. This has been demonstrated in real time with the handling of the coronavirus lockdowns. The good intentions that started the process quickly devolved into political favoritism and opportunities to advance agendas. This should never happen in an emergency or any other time. The 'suspension' of our civil rights is an outrage and no freedom loving American should ever stand for it. I will always fight to defend your God given, constitutionally protected rights. I will fight to keep you free to live your life as you see fit and to keep you free from unnecessary government interference in your home, place of worship, and schools," he wrote in his bio.
District 10 serves: Mason, Pierce, Thurston counties.
Marilyn Strickland served on the Tacoma City Council from 2008-2009 before being elected Tacoma's mayor, serving from 2010-2017. She has served as president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, board chair of the Pierce Transit and more.
"Taking care of workers, expanding healthcare, and rebuilding our economy from this crisis will take proven leadership and a plan. I have both.
"When I was elected Mayor of Tacoma, people were losing their homes and businesses were struggling. It’s happening again as the Trump Administration bails out their wealthy donors. I’m running for Congress to help workers, families, students, seniors, and small businesses, not Wall Street.
"By investing in people, local businesses and infrastructure, we can rebuild our economy to work for everyone. It’s what I did in Tacoma by working to raise the minimum wage, pass paid family leave, improve high school graduation rates from 55% to 89%, and invest $500+ million in transportation, housing and utilities – creating good paying jobs," she wrote in her bio.
Beth Doglio has served as state representative of Legislative District 22 (Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey and North Thurston). She has worked as a campaign director for Climate Solutions and is the founding executive director of Washington Conservative Voters.
"I’ve spent 30 years taking on special interests and tackling complex challenges. With families and communities struggling, we need passionate, effective leaders committed to rebuilding our economy and taking action on critical priorities.
"As a State Representative, I built diverse coalitions and passed landmark housing, clean energy jobs, and worker protection legislation. I’m running for Congress to continue fighting for South Sound families, seniors, veterans, and our most vulnerable," she wrote in her bio.
Pierce County Sheriff
Pierce County Sheriff's spokesperson Ed Troyer faces off against Sheriff's Lieutenant Cyndie Fajardo for the opportunity to replace outgoing sheriff Paul Pastor who is retiring.
In his candidate bio, Troyer says this is the first and only office he will run for. His experience includes 35 years with the sheriff's department, 15 years as a detective, 10 years as a patrol officer, and more.
"I'm running to keep you and your family safe," he wrote for his bio. "Our Sheriff's Department has a strong history of public trust, integrity, and transparency. I've worked alongside Sheriff Pastor for 15 years and I am prepared to lead. I know our department from top to bottom. I'll continue what we do well. I'll make changes where we can do even better."
Fajardo previously served as the president of the Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Guild from 2006-2015. She's a 32-year veteran of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. Work has included commanding officers of the Parkland-Spanaway precinct, interim director of public safety in Steilacoom, and more.
"As a 32-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, Lieutenant Fajardo brings an unequaled level of experience to this campaign," her bio states. "In her leadership responsibilities and supervisory commands in patrol, narcotics, search and rescue, community programs and in the precincts, Cyndie Fajardo has worked hard to earn an excellent reputation and the respect of her fellow officers for her unwavering commitment to public safety in Pierce County."
Referendum No. 90
The state Legislature passed Senate Bill 5395, a bill that would require school districts to adopt or develop – consistent with state standards – age-appropriate sexual health education for all students. It would allow parents to excuse their students upon request.
A coalition of parents gathered enough signatures to put the decision in the voter’s hands.
Supporters say it can help kids understand how to build healthy relationships and friendships.
But, some who are opposed to R-90, say the mandate goes too far.
Chapter seven: How to track election results
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, watch NBC coverage of the 2020 election on KING 5 from 4-11 p.m. to follow national election results and analysis.
Tune in to western Washington election coverage from 8-11 p.m. on KONG and 11 p.m. to midnight on KING 5. Local coverage will also stream live on king5.com and the KING 5 app.
Local coverage will include analysis from KING 5 Political Analysts Ron Sims, who served in the Obama administration and as King County executive, and Scott McClellan, who served in the Bush administration, as well as KING 5 Law Enforcement Analyst Carmen Best, former Seattle police chief.
Initial election results in Washington state are expected to be released shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Day. Track live results from races across 17 counties in western Washington at king5.com/elections or on the KING 5 app.