Lawsuit filed on behalf of Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans challenging a Washington law that requires voters to live in the state — or in a particular county or precinct — for at least 30 days in order to be eligible to register to vote and cast a ballot in the next election. The plaintiff asserts that this “pre-election durational residency requirement” — which voters must attest to satisfying on voter registration forms — “is longer than the registration deadline and…therefore prevents voters who could otherwise lawfully register and cast ballots from doing so just because they moved into the state, county or precinct too recently.”
The plaintiff alleges that under Washington’s durational residency requirement, voters who move to the state or those who move within the state (to a new county or precinct) fewer than 30 days prior to Election Day are prevented from voting in the upcoming election. As a result, these voters are unable to cast ballots for state or local officials who represent them based on their current residence. According to the complaint, the challenged requirement prohibits these individuals from voting even though the state allows otherwise eligible voters to register any time up to and through Election Day. Thus, even if a voter moved to Washington in time to register to vote, they could not take advantage of the opportunity if they have not lived in the state for more than 30 days before the next election.
The plaintiff contends that the durational residency requirement violates Section 202(c) of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from preventing otherwise eligible voters from voting for president and vice president based on how long they have resided in the state before Election Day and from requiring voters to attest to their residency status as a precondition for voting. The plaintiff also claims that the requirement contravenes the First and 14th Amendments by placing an undue burden on the right to vote and by discriminating against new residents to the state. The plaintiff asks the court to prohibit the state from denying eligible Washington voters the ability to register and vote in any election on the basis of their failure to meet the 30-day requirement.