by Bus Admin | Oct 21, 2020 | Uncategorized, Voter Registration, Voting
Leila is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the Bus. She’s passionate about making sure voting works for all of us.
Are you a new voter? Does everyone keep telling you to vote, but then forgetting to give you the details? ( We see you Facebook, Snapchat, and every Insta influencer ever). You’ve come to the right place. Let’s break it down.
How do I get registered to vote?
Registering to vote is *easy* in Washington State. You can do it online, with a Washington State ID, or in person (you’ll need a valid form of ID, like your social security card). Register online up until 8 days before election day, at www.registerinwa.org. This election season, that means the deadline is October 26th. If you’d like to check if you’re registered, or update your address, you can visit the voter portal at www.votewa.gov. In Washington, you can register in person all the way up to election day at a vote center. On election day, we have same day registration and voting, meaning you can go to a vote center, get registered, and vote, all in the same day.
Side note… where are the Vote Centers? And what can I expect if I visit one?
Vote centers are available across Washington to register new voters, update current voter records, obtain a voter registration card and to provide assistance to voters who need help completing their ballot. Trained staff and specialized equipment are available to help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot. Each county has at least one Vote Center, which is often the elections office. Many counties also open additional Vote Centers when ballots drop, which is 18 days before election day (Oct 16th this year!). Those hours might vary. You can google “Washington State Vote Centers”, or “King County Voter Centers”, if you live in King County. Your county’s election department website will let you know location and hours.
Am I eligible to vote?
In order to register or pre-register to vote, you need to be 16 years old and a US Citizen, living in Washington State. Sixteen and 17 year olds can pre-register, meaning you’ll automatically be registered to vote when you turn 18.
Ok, I’m registered to vote. Where’s my ballot?
In Washington State, we ALL vote by mail. This means that your ballot will come to the address on your voter registration 18 days before the election. The Secretary of State’s website always has these dates easily available, by the way, so check them out: www.sos.wa.gov. This is why it’s so important to check that your voter registration lists your current address, and update it if not! Again, you can do that at votewa.gov, or at a Vote Center. Did you miss the deadline to update your address, and really don’t want to go to a vote center? The voter portal (again, www.votewa.gov) let’s you print out your ballot. You can also track your ballot there, so you can see when it was sent to you, and when you return it, you can check if it was counted.
I got my Ballot. IT IS SO LONG. How do I figure out what to vote for?
Even pets like the Voter’s pamphlet.
You are right. It is long. In Washington State, we sometimes have up to SEVEN elections a year, depending on where you live, and the ballot can be three pages long, or more. Every voter gets sent a voter pamphlet by the Secretary of State, contains an explanation of the positions up for election on the ballot, and statements from each candidate. For referendums and initiatives, it contains an official explanation and a statement from each campaign stating why they think you should vote no, or yes.
Looking for more info? Another thing to do is check out voter guides. Local newspapers do voter guides and endorsements, issue based organizations do voter guides, and you could even check out local activists and media folks on social media. Fuse does a progressive voters guide, and issue based organizations like Washington Conservation Voters ( who are all about voting in green candidates) release a list of endorsements. The Washington Bus does the same. These are kind of like a cheat sheet – if you think that the organization that released the voter guide represents your values, it can be a good sign if they endorse your candidate or ballot measure. It’s always a good idea to check out several, and do your own research if you have time.
Depending on the year, you could be voting for representation at the federal level, like President, and at the state level, like your Governor and your state Senator. We vote at the county level for your County Executive (like the mayor of your county) and your county council representatives, and at the city level, for Mayor. You could vote for your School Board Representative, who controls so much about how education is funded and implemented, or your City Council-member, who passes municipal laws and helps control how city taxes are spent. Judges control how the criminal justice system is enforced, and can have huge influence on the school to prison pipeline.
Ballot measures are piece of proposed legislation which voters decide on. They are sometimes about implementing a local tax for specific funding, or they could be about implementing a law. Proposition 1, which is on the Seattle Ballot, implements a sales tax to fund public transportation (whoooo Buses!). Referendum 90 asks voters to decide whether comprehensive sex education should be implemented in K-12 schools.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to vote for everything on the ballot – it’s your ballot. However, these local officials and local ballot measures often impact our daily lives so much – everything from whether your community has good public transportation, to if local businesses thrive, to testing requirements in schools. If you’re wondering who these elected officials are, because you’ve never heard of them – that could be a red flag. How much outreach are they doing to your community? Are they passing laws that benefit you and your neighbors? Making sure you vote with your values is the best way to change how local government works and who it represents.
Alright, I filled out my ballot. Are you sure it will be counted?
Heck yeah! You’re on it. Your ballot needs to be filled out in black or blue pen, and you need to make sure it is signed. Your signature needs to match either the signature on your driver’s license or ID, or the signature on your voter registration. Making sure your phone number or email is on your voter registration gives your county elections department a chance to contact you if for some reason your ballot gets flagged because your signature doesn’t match. You can add that information at the voter portal (votewa.gov), or go to a vote center to update your signature.
How do I turn in my ballot?
You can either put your ballot in the mail, no postage required, or put it in a ballot drop box. Every county has a map of where drop boxes are located. For King County, that map is here, and for Pierce County, that map is here. Often they are located at local community centers, libraries, on college campuses, etc.
You need to make sure your ballot is postmarked by Nov 3rd (election day) (meaning the post office received it and marked it as received that day) or put it in a Ballot drop box by 8pm Nov 3rd.
Ok, I did it. That was stressful. How can I make it more fun?
Washington Bus Staff and Friends, getting their vote on!
Call your friends! Do it together (over facetime? #pandemictimes). Get your neighbors to walk to your local ballot box together. Voting is something that our whole community can be a part of – even if you’re not eligible to vote – by reminding and educating each other about the importance of voting in every election.
Congratulations, you did it. Now go remind three friends to vote. You’re amazing for making it through and adding your voice to the ballot box.
Other good things to know:
- Folks with felonies can vote in WA. You need to re-register, and you have to no longer be in community custody (under the authority of the Department of Corrections, or on parole). Check out more details on the SOS website, here.
- Voting with a disability? Accessible Voting Units are available at each Vote Center. Find out more here. You can request reasonable accommodation from the Elections office, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
by Bus Admin | Jul 27, 2017 | Arts & Culture, Community Engagement, Events, Voter Registration, Voting
Thirsty Thursday blog post reminding you to VOTE! #knowledgeresponsibly
The deadline to vote for the primary election is August 1st. Don’t forget to mail your ballot or drop it in a nearby dropbox!
Your vote really matters – in state and local elections just a few hundred votes can make the difference. If you live in Seattle, you’ll be helping to narrow down a crowded mayoral primary from 21 candidates down to 2! Plus, voting to determine whether we should create and fund a cultural access program expanding students and underserved populations’ access to arts, science, and heritage programming in King County, as well as voting on a county Executive and city councilmembers.
The Bus was out this weekend doing our part to make sure young people are turning out for elections large and small.
In order to make politics fun and accessible, we meet young folks where they are – and sometimes that means music festivals! This past weekend the Bus brought out Fellows, interns, and a ton of volunteers to canvass at Capitol Hill Block Party, making sure young folks at the festival were registered to vote and reminding them to turn in their ballots.
In the booth we had a station to make your own buttons, candy, and make-your-own-meme cutouts. While people learned about the Bus and had some fun with us, we made sure their voter registration was up to date, reminded them to turn their ballots in, and engaged them around voting access issues with a survey gauging public support for several strategies that can make voting easier, such as pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, automatic voter registration, pre-paid postage, same-day voter registration and language accessibility. By gathering information on the survey, we hope that we can impact the voting systems and make it more accessible. *And it turns out emojis are a very effective tool of measurement everyone can relate to.
Many people consider politics to be something serious and unapproachable, and we want to break down barriers that prevent people from fully participating in our democracy. We can express our values, achieve our goals, and make our communities better through voting. While we tackle serious issues, we still want to make sure people associate politics with something fun, something they want to be a part of.
Here I ask again, please get out to vote! Voting matters to you. Voting matters to the community. Voting matters to the entire city and state. Let’s make our voices heard!
This blog post was written by the Bus’s Duke Engage interns, Debra and Anqi.
by Bus Admin | Jun 29, 2017 | Community Engagement, Events, Issues & Policy, The Bustice League, Voter Registration
This week’s Hella Bus Blog Thirsty Thursday blog post comin’ at ya! #knowledgeresponsibly
We’ve got big news coming out of Buslandia, a place where dreams come true. Do you dream of 100% youth voter turnout? Do you want to befriend other rad civically engaged young people? Do you wish you could be a real-life superhero? Whatever your dream is, we’re proud to announce The Bustice League™, our brand spankin’ new volunteer program created with the stuff that dreams are made of.
Members of the Bustice League are the super-volunteers that help our voter registration and campaign work succeed. Super-volunteers commit to a certain number of volunteer hours per month. The opportunities are varied and endless–you could register voters at Bumbershoot, testify at city council, create a zine, or help out around the office. Joining the Bustice League gets you access to #firstdibs at music festival volunteer shifts, bus swag, an opportunity to build up your organizing skills, and of course, a once in a lifetime chance to change the world.
The Bustice League is an extension of our leadership development programs, seasonal internship, and sister organization’s summer fellowship. The Bustice League is open to people of all ages and experience levels. Have you already completed our fellowship program and want to get back on the Bus? Join the Bustice League! Did you just find out about us at Seattle Pride and want to learn more about volunteering? Join the Bustice League! We’ll have fun and meaningful ways for everyone to join.
As staff members, we commit to investing in you and your growth as a young political organizer with a passion for justice. We’ll also plan regular social events (happy hour, anyone?) for Bustice League members.
If you like what you’ve read so far and want to become a defender of democracy, an advocate for justice, and a mighty political organizer, you should join the Bustice League! Come to our official launch party at the Washington Bus office in Pioneer Square on July 6 from 6-8 pm. We’ll bring the snacks, and you can bring your friends. Deal? Check out the Facebook event here and don’t forget to RSVP! If you can’t come to the launch party, but want to learn more about joining the Bustice League, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog post was written by Sophia Hoffacker, the Bus’s own Field Coordinator.
by Bus Admin | Jun 1, 2017 | Arts & Culture, Community Engagement, Events, Voter Registration
Welcome to the first installation of the Hella Bus Blog’s Thirsty Thursday blog post! #knowledgeresponsibly
Memorial day weekend the Bus was out in force at the one, the only, SASQUATCH! In addition to watching some incredible music and getting gnarly tank top tans, we talked to thousands of young people about the importance of civic engagement and registered voters in the sun! Check out some highlights below.
Bus squad rolled deep with 5 staff members, 3 interns, and 8 rockstar volunteers (shoutout to former Bus staffer Sonny and the Service Board folks who combined forces with us for the ultimate #SQUADGOALS)! We registered 85 voters and collected 301 Pledge to Vote cards in just 3 short (jk, like the longest) days, and had great conversations with young people from around the state. Meeting young people where they are works – we got 154 new volunteer sign-ups from people who are stoked to take their civic engagement to the next level and hop on the Bus with us!!
Not to mention Vote Bot was on AT LEAST 50 people’s snapchat stories…
Stories from the ‘Squatch…
“I was registering someone to vote and later found out that she went to Evergreen College. We chatted a bit about a situation happening on campus where students of color are experiencing racism and we talked about the importance of campus organizing which was awesome. I tried to connect her with a former fellow on campus so hopefully they link up!” – Alisha, Fellowship Coordinator
“Chance the Rapper has literally changed my life. I am completely obsessed with his wholesome, woke, whimsical style and I am a better person now that I listen to him. I wrangled everyone in our group to run down to the mosh pit after the Shins’ set and wait for Chance to come on for almost 2 hours. And it was worth it. I smiled, I danced, I sang along, I screamed, I ugly cried (multiple times) and I am so happy that I got the opportunity to see Chance live!!!” – Sophia, Field Coordinator
All the good feelings.
“Sasquatch was such a great opportunity for staff, interns, and volunteers to connect with young people from around Washington State. We are activating young people and creating opportunities for conversations around issues that impact young people!” – Lily, Field & Outreach Coordinator
Expanding our reach.
“It was incredible that the Bus had the opportunity to register individuals from across the state and not just the Seattle area. Because of our location, it can be incredibly hard to find voters outside of western Washington, and so Sasquatch was a great way for us to build a statewide presence and not just a regional one.” – Sean, Field Organizer
Changing the narrative.
“I tried to register a guy to vote and when I asked if he wanted to register he said he “didn’t want to be a part of the establishment.” We had a super real conversation about the fact that people in power don’t want young people to vote and that by saying he doesn’t want to register because he doesn’t want to be a part of the establishment had the opposite effect of what he intended. By not registering, he was doing what “the establishment” wanted which is a lack of involvement to protect the status quo. I talked with him about the Bus’ work and why we think it’s important for young people to vote to take back our democracy. He didn’t register with me that day, but he promised he would consider it and we fist bumped and went about our day. I really appreciated how real he was with me and how he took the time to hear what I had to say and I could tell by talking to him I had opened his mind a bit more than it was before.” – Alisha, Fellowship Coordinator
Every year at Sasquatch is fulfilling, exhausting, and a total blast. We so appreciate being able to be involved in the music and arts community to make sure young people know about the Bus!
And now, for a dance break…
by Bus Admin | Oct 27, 2014 | Voter Registration, Voting
Voting! You turn 18 and BAM! Everyone you know is doing it.
In this case, I think we’ll all agree that a little peer pressure is a good thing. You vote, but how much do you know about it? Here are a few quick facts to get you started.
1. Women didn’t have the vote in Washington State until 1910.
And that was progressive! Here’s to 104 years of gals with ballots. Being the 5th state to o grant those rights, the rest of the country didn’t catch up until 1920. Women nearly had the vote in 1854, but the movement was overturned by one vote. Sometimes one vote can make all the difference.
2. The first Washington State voters pamphlet was published in 1914.
Nowadays, the pamphlet is distributed to 3,000,000 households for voting in the General elections. Here’s to 100 years of non-spam, informative mail!
3. Before 1971, the voting age was 21.
In 1971, the Constitution was amended for the 26th time and the voting age was changed to 18 across our fair country. Why you ask? The Vietnam War. People were getting a little riled up about the fact that you could be put in the army at 18, but you couldn’t use your civil liberties to make your voice heard in politics.
4. The average age of an off-year, primary voter in Washington is 62.
Do you remember what you were doing in July and August of 2013? I know your grandparents do. So remember as you cast your ballot this November – there’s an election, every year, two or three times per year. (And yes, each one is important definitely counts.)
5. Washington State is one of two states to be completely vote by mail.
Since 2012 there are absolutely 0 polling locations in the Evergreen State. Ballots are sent out about two and a half weeks before the election. Voters have until the first Tuesday in November (#ElectionDay #Nov4th2014) to either mail their ballots in, or find their nearest ballot dropbox.
6. Voters are increasingly identifying as Independent.
This really depends on whom you ask, and at what time, since people tend to identify differently closer to election time and in off years. However, in an Elway Foundation study looking at a 20-year average, almost 40% of voters identified as independent.
7. In 2012, Washington State had the highest voter turnout in the nation.
Issues such as Referendum 74 (legalization of same sex marriage) and Marijuana Legalization, plus the fact that it was a presidential election year, drew a record number of voters to the polls.
8. In 2013, voter turnout was the weakest in a decade.
This was despite ballots being mailed out to every voter, making it more convenient to vote by mail. Let’s all forget this happened and make 2014 so much better.
Let’s make 2014 another record year. You should have received your ballot by now. If you haven’t, contact your county elections department ASAP for a replacement. You can find that information here.
Otherwise, pull that ballot out from under all those magazines on your kitchen table, whip out a blue or black pen, get busy filling in what may seem like a multitude of little circles, stick a stamp on that baby, and march out to your mailbox to exercise your civil liberties (and your legs).
Go. I said go. Yes now. Or at least by November 4th. Happy Voting, y’all.
This blog post was written by Leila Reynolds, sophomore at the UW and Volunteer Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.