Washington state is best in the nation when it comes to engaging our Millennial Generation of voters, according to a new national survey.
“Rock the Vote,” a 20-year-old organization dedicated to educating, registering and engaging young voters, used a variety of measures to create a first-ever national ranking of the states. Although the report released Wednesday says the national average of just 41 percent shows that many are falling short of the mark, the survey does recognize reforms that are taking hold in some states.
Washington comes out on top, with an overall mark of 68 percent, followed by Iowa and Montana. Neighboring Oregon, which also shares Washington’s use of all vote-by-mail and ease of voter registration, also rated well.
The survey graded states on their voter registration system, including online; methods of casting a ballot, including early and vote-by-mail; and young voter preparation, including civics education. Washington was a leader in all categories.
Secretary of State Sam Reed was delighted with the national recognition for the work of the state Elections Division, election leaders in the 39 counties, and citizen groups that promote voter outreach to the youngest voters. Reed said he has made it a priority for his entire career, as a teacher, as leader of the movement to lower the voting age from 21, running elections as Thurston County Auditor for more than two decades, and as Secretary of State for the past 11 years, including a term as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Reed personally visits college campuses every year, works to serve young military and overseas voters, emphasizes outreach to minority, voters with handicaps, and other underrepresented groups, and promotes civics education and a mock-election program.
“Our democracy needs the full participation of all qualified voters, including the Millennials, those between 18 and 29. There are an estimated 45 million eligible voters in this age group nationally and each day more than 12,500 young people turn 18. We have made outreach a signature goal of the elections community in this state, and I honestly believe it will pay great dividends in the years ahead, with gains in registrations and actual voting and engagement in the life of their communities.”
Shane Hamlin and Katie Blinn, co-state elections directors, told staffers the national honor from those who follow the issue most closely reflects well on the state’s “enduring commitment to actively engage our state’s youngest voters and advance policies that expand participation among voters in the Millennial Generation.”