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caption: FILE: Kristen Nelson drops off her ballot on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at a ballot drop box in front of the Rainier Beach Community Center in Seattle.
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FILE: Kristen Nelson drops off her ballot on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at a ballot drop box in front of the Rainier Beach Community Center in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

How to vote if you're homeless

Monday marked the deadline for residents of Washington state registering to vote online, but it wasn't the last chance for voters to register.

This year, for the first time, people can register in person at voting centers right through election day, November 5.

And if you’re registering in person, you don't need a state ID, or even a home address, to do that.

Advocates are spreading the word to let people experiencing homelessness know they can vote, too, even without a permanent address.

You just need a landmark near where they stay, according to Hillary Coleman of the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness.

"An address of a shelter, an address that is an intersection near where someone spends a lot of time,” Coleman said. “We're up here on Capitol Hill, so someone could use Pine and Broadway as their intersection if this is near where they stay."

Her organization has been trying to raise awareness and make sure people sleeping in shelters and outside are registered to vote.

If someone doesn't have a state ID, the county will ask for the last four digits of their Social Security number to run against the federal database.

And if they don't have the last four digits of their social on hand, they can provide their date of birth and attest that they are a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident, and that they are eligible to vote under penalty of perjury.

People need a mailing address if they’re going to receive their ballot through the mail.

Coleman said some shelters and service centers can be used as a mailing address.

According to the King County elections website, to register to vote in Washington, 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


People with past felony convictions, but who are not currently under supervision are allowed to vote.

“These different issues that we’re voting on really do affect all of us, and so it’s important to make sure that people know that their voice is valued,” Coleman said.

There are several voting centers in King County. See the list of locations here.