Secretary of state visits campus
Associated Students of Seattle Pacific adviser Dale Anderson introduces himself to Secretary of State Sam Reed and thanks him for informing students about the importance of voting.
Photo credit: NATHAN SOSNOVSKE/The Falcon.
Sam Reed says youth have high stakes in 2012 election year
By AMBER ACKERSON, News Writer
Published: April 18, 2012
Senior Marisa Mault is looking forward to her first year as a registered voter as the November elections draw closer.
“Youth are the future and have a huge impact on national and local politics,” Mault said.
Mault said that although young voters are pivotal in the voting process, she is concerned with how informed they are on political issues.
“I personally have not been keeping up with recent politics,” Mault said. “Before I go to the polls, I will be sure to read up on all of the candidates to make an informed decision.”
However, not all young people will even cast a ballot. Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed visited Seattle Pacific last Wednesday as part of his fourth annual “College Civics Week” tour. The tour aims to educate and inspire the state’s youngest voters.
“I find it ironic that the group most affected over the long run by these elections is the group who votes the least,” Reed said. “It’s young people ... who have the most at stake in these upcoming elections. These issues will impact people for decades to come.”
Reed said the percentage of voters at any given age tends to be the same number as the age of the voters. For example, approximately 18 percent of 18-year-olds will participate in voting, followed by 25 percent of 25-year-olds and 60 percent of 60-year-olds.
“It used to be a hassle to participate in elections,” Reed said. “You either had to go to a voting center or reapply for absentee voting every year.”
But now, once a person registers to vote, counties will mail the voter a ballot for each election. Although this is seemingly more convenient for voters, Reed said that college students still face a problem because their addresses often change.
In an effort to make the voting process easier, Washington became the second state to offer online voting. Residents can now register to vote online and submit their ballots through email. Voters can also access their general contact information and make changes, ensuring that ballots will be mailed to their current address.
“The voting system in Washington state is about as conducive to college students as any other state in the nation,” Reed said. “We’ll get the ballot to you anywhere in the world. It’s about as convenient a system as any in the country.”
Lindsay Pryor, voter and education outreach coordinator for the office of the Secretary of State, said there has been a significant increase in young voters in recent years. In 2008, 68 percent of 18- to 21-year-olds were registered to vote.
“This is the highest percent of 18-year-old voters since they gained the right to vote,” Pryor said.
Although the percentage of young voters has dramatically increased since 2000, they are still well below other age groups, Pryor said.
Reed emphasized the importance for students to register to vote in the upcoming elections.
“2012 is going to be a really exciting political year,” Reed said. “In addition to the presidential race, there are the Senate and governor’s races. To top it all off, we’ve got a couple of doozies coming up with state Legislatures, including the legalization of marijuana and same sex marriage.”
The topic of higher education is also one of interest in the state Legislature. With a decline in budget over the past few years, classes and staff members have been lost in several state colleges and universities, Reed said.
“With the election, I could see us going in new directions as we go into 2013,” Reed said.
For Mault, the impact of the coming election is worth the research she intends to do about issues.
“Being a college student, I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to read up on current events and politics,” Mault said. “This is the time for many students to start defining their own values and beliefs, separate from those they may have grown up with.”