New Federal Lawsuit Challenges Washington’s 30-Day Voter Residency Requirement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans filed a federal lawsuit challenging a state law that requires prospective voters to reside in the state — or in a particular county within the state — for at least 30 days prior to the election in which they seek to vote. 

The Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans — a nonprofit organization with over 90,000 members — alleges that under the state’s “pre-election durational residency requirement,” voters who move to Washington within 30 days of Election Day — or those who move to a different county or precinct within the state — are prevented from voting in presidential elections as well as local and state elections.

The new lawsuit asserts that the 30-day 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.”

According to the complaint, the challenged requirement prohibits individuals who fail to meet the 30-day requirement from voting, even though the state allows otherwise eligible voters to register any time up until and through Election Day. 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 prior to Election Day. 

The group contends that the durational residency requirement violates Section 202(c) of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), 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 lawsuit 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 retiree organization 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. 

This lawsuit comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit filed early last month in North Carolina that challenges the Tar Heel State’s 30-day durational residency voting requirement. The North Carolina lawsuit also brings claims under the VRA and U.S. Constitution. 

Read the complaint here.

Learn more about the case here.