NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Today is the last day to register to vote online (or by mail) in Washington for 2016 election

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.

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