Liias introduces legislation to help increase voter participation among young adults

Sen. Marko Liias

State Sen. Marko Liias this week introduced Senate Bill 6313 — the Voting Opportunities Through Education (VOTE) Act — a measure aimed at increasing voter participation among young adults.

“Every voice needs to be heard to maintain a strong democracy,” said Liias, a 21st District Democrat who represents parts of Edmonds and Lynnwood. “Getting more young people engaged in our democracy is critical to reaching this goal. While other states are installing unfair and unnecessary barriers to voting, here in Washington we are working hard to remove barriers and empower voter participation for everyone.”

During the 2018 legislative session, Washington lawmakers enacted automatic voter registration for those 18 years and older as well as a law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. However, the youth pre-registration is an opt-in process.

The VOTE Act aims to change that to an opt-out process, making registration automatic unless they choose to not register. It will also allow young voters to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 and are otherwise eligible to vote before the next general election, which had previously been permitted for the presidential caucuses before the adoption of the presidential primary law in 2019.

The legislation attempts to address voting barriers facing younger adults such as frequently changing their address, becoming eligible right after an election, and limits on voter registration access on college campuses.

The VOTE Act creates “Voter Empowerment Centers” at the state’s public four-year colleges and universities. These  centers will make it easier for college students to cast their ballots if they have last-minute challenges that would otherwise be a barrier to voting. For example, the center can help an individual take advantage of the state’s new same-day voter registration law in the final days before the election as well as ballot printing.

“A strong democracy is one that gets as many eligible voters to participate as possible — and that includes young people,” said Danny Villars, field director at the Washington Bus and member of the Washington Voting Justice Coalition. “For students balancing a big life transition, course loads, jobs and other commitments, finding a drop box or voting center near them can get complicated. On-campus Engagement Centers will help students get voting on their schedules and make their voices heard.”

SB 6313 was referred to the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee for consideration.

The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on March 12.

    1. It’s interesting to see who wants more people to vote and who doesn’t. Says a lot about where we are at.

      1. Everybody wants more people to vote. Some people want illegal people to vote, and the same want some people to vote twice. Some people even want dead people to vote.

        Looks like Trump would have won NH if people were prevented from voting twice.

        I’m passionate about professional wrestling in the same way Democrats are passionate about democracy. It works best when people cheat at it. #NoRulz #JohnCena4Life

      2. I’ve been mostly happy with how apolitical my kids’ teachers are (K-4). But, I anticipate needing to re-educate my kids in the upper grades due to their exposure to mostly hard-left authority figures. An Edmonds HS teacher went nuts on me over his dislike for Trump at a party (no one was talking about Trump, or politics even). I didn,t lament the idea of my kids taking classes from him someday. I just felt bad for how miserable he was in hate at that moment. Get ’em young is the strategy. TDS

  1. Here’s my take: if you are old enough to vote, then you are old enough to serve your country. One should be held accountable for how they vote. So…lower the age to 15 years and then let’s lower the service to country to 15 years.

    I know. Probably not my most popular idea. But here’s my reasoning: when I raised my right hand to serve – at 17 (deferred entry), I was not yet eligible to vote. Once in, my service shaped how I voted.

  2. Great points Mike. Our country would be better off if more men and women and others served their country for some period of time. The military is one of the best ways to serve. CCC’s served when they did not go to military. Peace Corp and all the others as well. All who served learned about so many things they then become great citizens. If all young people (and even retired folks as well) had the opportunity to serve in some way we would all be better off. Summer work programs, forest service programs, working with our public works dept, or parks. These would be not only great experiences but would improve citizenship. Good points Mike.

  3. Mike, while I pretty much can agree with your comment in general, I’m a little uncomfortable with your idea that “one should be held accountable for how they vote.” How do you hold someone accountable for how they vote? No one individual should even know how any other one individual voted if we truly live in a free and equal society. Your comment makes me think of the Southern Jim Crow laws that required people to pass literacy tests before they could register to vote, to prove they were accountable (and in reality not Black). Similarly people had to pay fairly substantial poll taxes, a not too subtle way to weed out the poor class from voting. I know that’s not what you meant but I think it might be good to clarify it a bit. Just a thought, no offense meant.

    1. Clinton, no offense taken whatsoever. Happy to clarify. When I suggest “one should be held accountable for how they vote” I mean that the person who votes how they vote should be willing to personally take action on it. Only that person will know – and they have to live with their own conscience. For example, I rarely support a vote for war – because I don’t want to go. I will go if required and do my part. I rarely vote for tax increases because I don’t trust most elects to be good stewards of my hard earned money – but I will gladly give to philanthropic causes or initiatives I believe in. Make sense?

    2. People should be held accountable to how they vote. The ballot box isnt some magic no-accountability zone, whereas every other aspect of our lives we value accountability. Even if we consider your City Council district voting idea (which is a great idea) the side effect is it’s more possible to see which people elected which representative. Anonymous voting has no accountability. The Klan wore masks for the same reasons. Secret ballots should be done away with. It’s too easy to fool people who arent committed, too easy to rig the ballot box. We’d have a better government, more carefully chosen if everyone knew who you chose. Voting isnt a constitutional right.

      I dont think Jim Crow laws or poll taxes are are an accountability arguement.

      1. In response to Matt Richardson’s comment, “Voting isn’t a constitutional right,” I believe that it should be. People who believe in democracy have been trying for a very long time to pass a “Voting Rights” amendment to the Constitution.

        Rules can apply to the “right to vote,” but too many states are finding ways to deny their citizens the vote. If anyone wants to look into this, do your research into “update on states’ efforts to deny the right to vote.”

        In the interest of privacy, we should not have to reveal for whom we voted. We must reveal donors to political campaigns. That seems like a good law, but having to reveal our personal choice of our vote does not help promote voting or our system of democracy.

        1. There are no federal elections. A constitutional right to vote would be for no elected office. These elections are basically polls.

          If showing an ID is an attempt to restrict people from voting (which isnt a constitutional right)… then showing ID, filling out back ground checks, waiting a wait-period, paying fees, attending mandated classes, getting permits from police…. are certainly restrictions on the Constitutionally right to be armed.

          Here’s what POC really think about the alleged voting restrictions:

          Like I point out with telling kids theyre too dumb to vape yet too smart not to vote in same sentence, and now with voting access, Rebecca, you’re inadvertently infantilizing young and minority voters.

  4. Matt: Voting is a constitutional right. Article VI of the Washington State Constitution: “All persons of the age of eighteen years or over who are citizens of the United States and who have lived in the state, county, and precinct thirty days immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote, except those disqualified by Article VI, section 3 of this Constitution, shall be entitled to vote at all elections.”

    1. It’s a good point Reid. States run elections, not the federal government. Even at the state level, most popular elections are limited by district. The ballot initiative process even a relatively new process, and different in each state. Everyone likes initiative-type democracy until Tim Eyman does it. All this “voting” mess was created in the 1920’s and should have been ended when prohibition ended. There are no good reasons for ballot initiatives, or popular elections for people who you don’t live around and have access to. Could you imagine a National vote for POTUS, or elections for what are appointed federal officers? – a national ballot initiative process? It would complete mob tyranny. The country would split up into three.

  5. Thanks for clarification Mike. I suspected that was where you are coming from on accountability and I agree with your concept of that totally except I might use the term good citizenship rather than accountability. That’s just semantics though. We have argued as a nation since the founding over who should have the right to vote and why. Actually County governments handle the mechanics of elections and are generally responsible for enforcing whatever rules there are surrounding them. The idea of a secret ballot is that individual people won’t suffer adverse consequences for how they voted and/or who they voted for. Can’t see why anyone would object to the secret ballot, but to each his own. For one thing, a county wide show of hands might be a tough thing to pull off.

    1. Even votes to give people the right to vote are most always negatively affirmed by the secret ballot. Republicans gave women the right to vote against their will:

      Prop 8 wouldn’t have passed if people voted in the open. It really proves the point I’m making. Which founding father believed in the ballot box? Again, the question at hand is, why would Marco Liias want people to vote whom he doesnt think are smart enough to vape?

      1. There’s not a lot of divisiveness in North Korea. I don’t understand why two idealistic parties is bad. Jesse Ventura says our two-party system is great in that we have one more party than Russia has. If I were king, I’d move the nation’s capital to Kansas, get rid of the schemes like the Commission on Presidential Debates, and foster a system where, instead of two bickering parites, we’d have half a dozen parties that hated each other.

  6. If we had secret ballots in congress, they would probably agree more often be cause they could vote what they individually felt what was best not what their party wanted. The impeachment vote will be open and visible. If it were secret would it be the same?

    1. Congress passes a record number of pages of aggregated bills each year, and the code grows exponentially. It’s mostly welfare and warfare, so Congress agrees about more than 80% of the time, else all these laws wouldn’t get passed. The impeachment is just politics. Dem’s cant win 2020 without undoing what was an open and visible election. It would be left open and visible if Congress voted secretly.

  7. It appears the impeachment vote will be pretty much a quickie whitewash with no real considerations of the facts based on McConnells just announced rules. I suspect that bodes very well for the D.s in Nov. since polls show over 60% of the people want a real trial. Dem.s shouldn’t fight back very hard on the McConnell whitewash. I predict Mitch will win the battle and lose the war. Suspect Pelosi has already planned on this scenario. Best outcome for democracy is Trump is voted out, not thrown out in my opinion. Personally, would love to see centrist become President and R.s lose the Senate.

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