October 15, 2021

2021 Voter Resource Guide

Key dates  

Oct 23 | Vote Early Day
Oct 25 | Mail/Online General Election Registration Deadline
Nov 1 | Election Hero Day
Nov 2 | In-Person General Election Registration Deadline
Nov 2 | General Election Voting (Mail-in must be postmarked no later than 11/02)

 Importance and Impact of Civic Engagement  

State and local elections are where our individual votes have the most impact, and major changes can be made to our communities. Policies as significant as marriage equality have started on the state level before being adopted as national policy. We have the power to come together to challenge how things happen on the national stage by making changes in our own communities first. This is why state and local elections matter. 

Policies affect us most directly close to home. If we don’t speak up about the way policies impact our lives, who will? Voting is a way of making our voices heard and advocating for our needs as well as the needs of others like us. The right to speak for ourselves in this way isn’t something we’ve always had access to as women, people of color, diversely-abled individuals, immigrants, or people who have been incarcerated. We need to vote to continue to defend our right to a free and fair democracy that works for everyone. 

How to Vote

Did you know that as many as 10% of Spokane County voters may be marked inactive? 

Before the election we encourage everyone to check their voter registration status to ensure that their information is up to date, their registration is active, and that they will receive a ballot in time to vote. Both Washington state and Idaho are permitting absentee (mail-in) ballots at this time, so please check that your address is entered correctly in order to receive your ballot by mail. 

To verify that your address is listed correctly in order to receive a mail in ballot in Washington state visit votewa.gov. If you reside in Idaho you can go to idaho.gov.

If you are submitting your ballot in-person in a drop box, or voting in person rather than by mail visit spokanecounty.org for Spokane County, WA voting locations or visit kcgov.us for voting locations in Kootenai County, ID. 

Safety and Confidentiality Considerations

We know that survivors of Intimate Partner Domestic Violence may experience barriers to voting due to safety and confidentiality concerns. Registering to vote, among other things, makes one’s address public record. For those of us who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking and live with genuine concerns for our safety, this fact can be absolutely terrifying. To learn more about the complex considerations that survivors have to navigate when considering whether to vote and to better understand why some may choose not to register to vote in order to protect themselves and their families, please read this article

In the state of Washington, The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), run by the Office of the Secretary of State, offers survivors a substitute address and public records protection. This can be an impactful part of a survivor’s overall safety plan. To apply for the Address Confidentiality Program, a survivor must meet with an advocate who has attended ACP training and been certified as an application assistant for the Address Confidentiality Program. YWCA Spokane has multiple advocates who are certified ACP application assistants and are able to assist survivors of intimate partner domestic violence in understanding, applying for, and navigating the Address Confidentiality Program. For an appointment, please call our front desk, 509-326-1190, and ask to meet with a domestic violence support advocate. You can also contact the ACP office directly at 800-822-1065 to find out more. To identify an application assistant at another organization within your community, please visit this website. 

For the general public, voter information, including a voter’s home address, is public record and is therefore accessible by search to a wide variety of individuals or groups. It is a legal requirement that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the Department of Licensing (DOL), Health Benefits Exchange (HBE), and the Health Care Authority (HCA), must ask everyone who is accessing their services if they want to register to vote. When a person registers to vote in any of these locations, or registers online through votewa.gov, their information is placed in public record. The Address Confidentiality offers an alternative for survivors to reduce the risk of harm associated with having one’s address be accessible through public record. People enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program can participate in national, state, and local elections without endangering the confidentiality of their home address. By registering for ACP and voting as an ACP Protected Registered Voter (PRV), a survivor’s physical address will not appear in public records. Once enrolled in ACP, participants are strongly encouraged not to register to vote through any other process than through the Address Confidentiality Program using a specific form for Protected Registered Voters. 

After applying for and being approved to participate in the Address Confidentiality Program, ACP participants will receive Protected Registered Voter registration paperwork and ACP specific voting forms. Again, ACP participants should not register to vote online or at any government office, because this will place their address in public record. An ACP Protected Registered Voter (PRV) must meet the same voting deadlines as the general public. Depending on how close ACP enrollment occurs to the November general election, a survivor may need to register to vote in person with their local election office. Advocates at YWCA Spokane can help navigate this process of voting and meeting required dates and deadlines while considering safety and confidentiality concerns with survivors of intimate partner domestic violence. 

It’s important to know that the Address Confidentiality Program is unable to remove information that has already been placed in public records. For this reason, it is often safest for a survivor to enroll in the Address Confidentiality Program after moving away from an address that is known to their abuser or that has already been placed in public record. When considering applying to the Address Confidentiality Program, an advocate can help navigate these concerns.  

What’s on the Ballot?

Although this isn’t a federal election year, there are many important and impactful elections that will affect our local leadership and policy. Some of the most important positions that will be changing hands are those on city councils and school boards in the area. Deer Park is also electing a Mayor this election year. These positions are incredibly important because the people in them effectively run our community. The City Council comprises the city’s legislative branch, much like how Congress makes laws for the nation, the City Council creates ordinances (laws & regulations) for the city. The Mayor then acts as the lead executive of the city, much like the role of the President in the federal government. 

To find a personalized sample ballot with your local candidates and ballot measures, visit Ballotpedia and enter your address and email. If you do not feel comfortable entering this information we recommend asking a safe relative or friend who lives nearby if you can use their information to find a local sample ballot. 

All voters in Spokane County will be able to participate in Washington Advisory Votes 36-38. Advisory votes are kind of like citizen reviews for taxes that have already been voted on and implemented by state lawmakers. These votes do not actually impact the law, so don’t be too concerned if you do not understand exactly what tax the Advisory Vote is referencing, your vote is far more impactful on the other items on your ballot. 

Our ballots also include levies, which are local property taxes that support public services, such as schools and emergency services. This November, the Spokane Fire Protection Districts’ Levies are a ballot item worth paying attention to. This is a proposed property tax that will go to fund fire protection and emergency medical services if passed. To put this proposed tax into perspective, this would be $1.50 for every $1,000 worth of assessed property value, an 8 to 41 cent raise from the current levy in place, depending on which fire district you live in. Spokane’s fire commissioners say these levies are “necessary to maintain an effective level of services” to our community with rising costs of services, staffing, equipment, and facilities. 

To find the full list of local ballot measures and candidates, check out the Voters’ Pamphlet for Spokane County.

YWCA Spokane Is Here For You

If you or someone you know is impacted by intimate partner domestic violence, know that confidential advocates are always available through our 24hr helpline services by calling 509-326-2255, emailing help@ywcaspokane.org, or texting 509-220-3725.

To learn more about accessing additional services through YWCA Spokane during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit ywcaspokane.org/services.

By: Rachel Dannen

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