On Thursday Bellevue College students, appropriately dressed in pajamas, enjoyed breakfast at 9:30 a.m. with Washington’s Secretary of State Sam Reed during BC’s Civics Week.
Secratary Reed manages the state election process but the number one thing on his agenda was the youth vote and the role it plays in local and national government.
For that very reason Secretary Reed spends a couple of weeks each year visiting a vast number of colleges all across Washington State emphasizing the importance of being involved in the political process. The Secretary immediately started the discussion by asking the 80 or so students, what they considered to be the dominant excuses people (especially youth) give for not voting.
Among some of the responses given by students were that people are busy on voting day, the weather, immigration status and apathy. The Secretary replied by stating that most of those concerns are not valid because they have already been addressed.
Secretary Reed dove a little into Washington state history and explained how Washington was the second state in the nation to approve online registration for new voters. This eliminates any concerns about registering to vote process being a hassle. He then stressed that Washington’s vote by mail gives opportunity for people who are temporarily out of the state or even out of the country to still send in their vote.
On the subject of immigration, Secretary Reed responded that although a registered voter must be a legal United States citizen, and of age, voters with English as their second language have the opportunity in most counties to receive a ballot and voting information in their first language. There is also a link on the Secretary’s website that offers translation in many more languages.
Towards the conclusion of the hour-long discussion Secretary Reed stressed the importance of the youth vote once more by pointing out that one in four Washington residents considered to be a youth, meaning between the ages of 18 to 25.
He urges all of today’s youth to register if they haven’t already and to make sure to show up and vote.
He also recommended that everyone visit the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.secstate.wa.gov and to click on the “My Vote” link where voters can check to make sure their address is current, see how they have voted in the past, and find out who their state and county representatives are.