Successful WSARA lawsuit protects voting rights

Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans sues to end 30-day residency burden for state’s voters



(May 29, 2024) — Say you’ve been a Washington resident all your life, but are moving to a new home within a month of an election. Or suppose you just moved to Washington state two weeks before the election.

Until recently, that meant you could have been denied the right to vote.

But thanks to an important agreement reached with state election officials in March as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans (WSARA), eligible voters will not be turned away when they show up at the polls.

When we learned about this issue, we decided to take action. Older voters tend to move – we may decide to downsize, want to live closer to family members, or choose to move to assisted living or a nursing facility.

The law in Washington state, we believe, placed an unnecessary burden on older voters and violated the federal Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution. So we sued and on March 15 a federal judge approved an agreement WSARA reached with the Washington Secretary of State so that this provision of state law will no longer be enforced for upcoming elections.

Because of the agreement we reached, Washington voters will no longer have to attest to satisfying the 30-day residency requirement on voter registration forms and will be able to register to vote on or before Election Day regardless of how long they have resided in the state.

A similar ongoing lawsuit filed by the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans in October 2023 challenges North Carolina’s 30-day durational residency voting requirement under the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution.

The Washington State and North Carolina Alliance chapters are the latest Alliance state chapters to go to court to block burdensome voting restrictions that could suppress the vote. In 2020 and 2022, Alliance members went to court in other states to protect vote-by-mail, ensure ballot return drop boxes were available and accessible to older voters, and stop vigilantes who were harassing Arizona voters while returning their mail ballots.

Making sure all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot that is actually counted – that’s a win for democracy and a fight that the 94,000 members of the Washington State Alliance are proud to have taken on and won.


Jackie Boschok is the President of the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans. Learn more about WSARA here.

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