Reed: ‘You can’t vote unless you’re registered’; online deadline Oct. 4, in-person deadline Oct. 25

If you’re not registered to vote in the big General Election on Nov. 2, you should register soon, Secretary of State Sam Reed said.

“Now is the time to register,” said Reed, Washington’s chief elections officer. “It’s easier, faster and more convenient than ever. If your voting information is outdated, you have plenty of time to correct it with your county elections office so you can vote in this key election.”

The November election includes the high-profile U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Patty Murray and challenger Dino Rossi, all nine congressional seats, all 98 state House seats, 25 state Senate seats and many local races, as well as six statewide initiatives and three other ballot propositions.

“There are too many important races and ballot measures this year to choose NOT to vote,” Reed said. “But you can’t vote unless you’re registered.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State has declared September as National Voter Registration Month. Reed is a past president of the association.

People who are eligible to vote have two options to register before the November election:

— They have until Oct. 4 to register online or via mail or to transfer or update their voter registration status. People can click here http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/voterinformation/Pages/RegistertoVote.aspx to register online. Washington is one of eight states that allow voter registration and registration updates via the Internet.

— Oct. 25 is the in-person registration deadline for brand new Washington registrations. Voters need to fill out and turn in a voter registration form at their county elections office. Go here to visit a county Web site and get more information about voter registration or about candidates listed on the General Election ballot.

You may register and vote if you are:
— A citizen of the United States;
— A legal resident of Washington State; and
— At least 18 years old by Election Day.

You may not register or vote if you:
— Have been convicted of a felony and not had your voting rights restored; or
— Have been declared by a court to be mentally incompetent and ineligible to vote.

As of latest count, there are 3,581,961 Washington residents registered to vote. About 41 percent of them voted in the recent Top 2 Primary. Statistics compiled by the state Office of Financial Management show that Washington’s voting age population in 2009 was 5,086,705.

“This means roughly 30 percent of the people who are old enough to vote in Washington haven’t registered,” Reed said. “When you consider how our elections impact all of our lives, you’d think that more residents here would want to register so they can help decide who runs our government.”

According to U.S. Census figures for 2008, 14 percent of nonvoters said they did not vote because they missed their state’s voter registration deadline. Overall, 60 million eligible voters throughout America did not register that year.

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