Readers, a reminder that today is the deadline to register to vote in Washington for the 2016 general election. We ought to have same-day voter registration — allowing people to register up until and on Election Day — but we don’t. It will be possible to register in-person for a couple more weeks, but that takes much more work. So please, check with your friends and family and ask:
Are you registered to vote?
Voters who join the rolls online by the deadline tonight will get a ballot along with everyone else in about ten days. The United States Postal Service isn’t open for business today (it’s a federal holiday), but the state and county auditors will honor registration forms postmarked by tomorrow, October 11th.
Facebook and Google have both been notifying users about the deadline, which is helping to cause a flurry of activity at the state’s voter registration portal.
“MyVote.wa.gov, our main voter information and registration tool, was jammed with online business on Sunday, spiking after the presidential debate last evening. The new record is 23,167, far exceeding the previous one-day record of 13,109 that we set recently with a big assist from Facebook and Google,” said David Ammons, spokesman for incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
It’s nice that Facebook and Google are encouraging people to register, but the Secretary of State’s office should be doing more than just relying on those firms to get the word out about the deadline. We’d like to see elections officials being more proactive about getting people registered. That’s something Wyman’s Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski has made a central theme of her campaign.
Podlodowski says she considers the job of Secretary of State to be chief voting officer as opposed to chief elections administrator. She argues that elections officials should be concerned with more than just counting votes — they need to be working constantly on eliminating barriers to voting.
That includes making it easier for historically underrepresented and underserved communities to register and return ballots.
Many communities are celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day today, and accordingly, Podlodowski is urging members of Washington’s native tribes to register if they have not already done so, as their voices need to be heard in this important election.
Wyman, meanwhile, is celebrating all the referrals that the state is getting.
“We are delighted with the new record number of registered voters being set every single day,” she said. “Sunday’s surge was nothing short of amazing, and it looks certain that we’ll have a robust turnout. That level of voter engagement is so good for self-government. We need to hear all voices.”
Getting voters registered is not enough. We also have to encourage people to actually vote. Robust turnout doesn’t happen by accident and is not a certainty — it happens as a result of lots of hard work. Outreach is crucial to high turnout.