As we prepare for the upcoming election, I would encourage all Washington residents to vote. Please review our state’s Voters’ Guide and the King County Bar Association’s Judicial Candidate Evaluation Ratings for some helpful information to guide you in your decision making process.  In addition, here are three tips for voting from an estate planning perspective:

Voting Tip #1: If someone is deceased, how are they removed from the voter registration list?

Answer: This matter is governed by RCW 29A.08.501 which provides:

The registrations of deceased voters may be canceled from voter registration lists as follows:

(1) Periodically, the registrar of vital statistics of the state shall prepare a list of persons who resided in each county, for whom a death certificate was transmitted to the registrar and was not included on a previous list, and shall supply the list to the secretary of state.

The secretary of state shall compare this list with the registration records and cancel the registrations of deceased voters.

(2) In addition, each county auditor may also use government agencies and newspaper obituary articles as a source of information for identifying deceased voters and canceling a registration. The auditor must verify the identity of the voter by matching the voter’s date of birth or an address. The auditor shall record the date and source of the information in the cancellation records.

(3) In addition, any registered voter may sign a statement, subject to the penalties of perjury, to the effect that to his or her personal knowledge or belief another registered voter is deceased. This statement may be filed with the county auditor or the secretary of state. Upon the receipt of such signed statement, the county auditor or the secretary of state shall cancel the registration from the official state voter registration list.

Voting Tip #2: If someone is incapacitated and a guardian has been appointed on their behalf, does that mean they cannot vote?

Answer: Not necessarily. This matter is governed by RCW 11.88.010(5) which provides:

Imposition of a guardianship for an incapacitated person shall not result in the loss of the right to vote unless the court determines that the person is incompetent for purposes of rationally exercising the franchise in that the individual lacks the capacity to understand the nature and effect of voting such that she or he cannot make an individual choice. The court order establishing guardianship shall specify whether or not the individual retains voting rights. When a court determines that the person is incompetent for the purpose of rationally exercising the right to vote, the court shall notify the appropriate county auditor.

Voting Tip #3: If someone is serving as an Attorney-in-Fact under a General Durable Power of Attorney, can they cast a vote on behalf of the principal?

Answer: No. See the Washington Secretary of State’s website stating that a “power of attorney does not extend to voting.”

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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