Election szn is here!
We have said goodbye to our Summer Fellows, Candidate Survivor gowns, and Capitol Hill Block Party gear for the year. Don’t worry — things are far from winding down. High school and college campus voter registration drives are in full-swing and we are here for it. Bus staff and volunteers took over Western Washington University for Move-In Weekend. In partnership with Western Votes, a student-led organization, we registered 1,700 students to vote in just three days. As incoming students grabbed their dorm keys, our team ensured they updated their voter information to receive their ballots at their current mailing address. Many students registered for the first time!
Why register students to vote on college campuses? Registering college students every year is a major way to drive up voter turnout among young people. We need to be meeting students where they are. Despite Washington’s newly extended voter registration deadline of October 28th, students will still need to update their information if they moved over the summer. Since a majority of university students are renters, this is an important effort.
We want to make it easy to register to vote. Many students are juggling school with work (sometimes more than one job) and family responsibilities. More and more student organizations are investing in civics education and voter registration to amplify the voices in their communities. And guess what? It’s working. Last year, midterm turnout for young voters (ages 18-29) is up to 31% — that’s millions more than in 2014.
Civic engagement brings together communities on campus. Voter registration efforts like Western Votes attract students from various of backgrounds, majors, and political passions. Western Votes alum, Ari Winter, explains, “Coming to Western was easier for me because I had other passionate folks volunteering around me. Western Votes has been a transformational experience for me as a student, voter, activist, and human being.” This is why we do the work we do: youth-led movements are powerful and deserve support.
We believe our democracy works best when everyone can participate. Good things happen when elected officials know who’s voting. Young voters who advocate for affordable housing, climate justice, reproductive justice and more can make a real difference in their legislators’ priorities. In just the last two weeks, the Bus has registered more than 700 high school students to vote — now we want to turn that energy into turnout in November.
Sound like fun and you want to volunteer? Or, do you want to run your own voter registration drive? Reach out to Emma Scalzo at emma[at]washingtonbus[dot]org.