Do you even vote, bro?

Do you even vote, bro?

This week’s Hella Bus Blog Thirsty Thursday post is all about elections! #knowledgeresponsibly

This week was a big week for democracy with primary election day on August 2nd at the center of it all!

We have some big races happening around the state and in King County from picking a new Seattle mayor to determining control of the state senate in the 45th district (Check out results from election night here). At a time when many young people feel like national politics is kind of like a montage of The Real World and musical chairs, getting down with local elections gives us the opportunity to connect with candidates and vote for people who will have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives (also, this is how we get free churros every Friday from City Hall #amiright? OR #amiright?)

Anyway, let’s talk about how many people voted (aka: turnout) – non-presidential and primary elections aren’t exactly known for hella people busting out to vote and it looks like this year isn’t exactly a combo breaker. Statewide turnout is at 20% (King County coming in at 33%) of registered voters, and with the average age of primary voters statewide being 62 years old (#tbh, I’m a bit disappointed).

That’s why the Bus spent the last few months out meeting young people and helping them register to vote at music festivals, college campuses, and community events! We reached thousands of young people all over Washington in-person and followed up with them through phone calls and our brand spankin’ new text outreach system! It helped us reach out to and remind young people to vote in a way that we hadn’t be able to do before. We even had Komo News stop by the office to learn more about it!

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 7th! We have the general election coming up and it’s coming in hot! You have plenty of time to register to vote, if you missed the primary voter registration deadline! You can head to registerinwa.org and reach out to us if you have any questions on how to register to vote, or how you can get involved to help other young people turnout on election day!

Get Out That Vote!

Get Out That Vote!

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.

Introducing the Bustice League!

Introducing the Bustice League!

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 sophia@washingtonbus.org.

This blog post was written by Sophia Hoffacker, the Bus’s own Field Coordinator.

Busquatch 2017!

Busquatch 2017!

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…

Making connections.

“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

Music magic. 

“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…

8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Voting in Washington State

8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Voting in Washington State

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.

Guest Blog! My Tam’s Guide to Citizenship and First Time Voting Pt. 3

Guest Blog! My Tam’s Guide to Citizenship and First Time Voting Pt. 3

This is the final installment of a series by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person. Check our part 1 and 2 here and here respectively.

Election Day is here!

Voting is an individual act of pure power; that’s one of the things I’m learning as a first time voter. It’s like we’re a group of millions of ants, all collectively working together, pulling a giant leaf of citizenship to make it to the top of a political anthill. That anthill is not a candidate being voted into office or a law being passed; the top of that anthill is our collective voter registry, our unified willingness to show up for our country and make the best of this democracy. I feel a greater responsibility now to hold my fellow citizens accountable to step up and utilize their personal power. After completing my last phone call tonight, I feel a deep sense of empowerment that I’d participated in the process. In a small way, I was able to contribute to tangible democracy and make a difference.

So what did I learn in this journey of first-time voting in the past few weeks that I will apply the next time around when I’m going a second-time voter?

Show Up.
Mark my calendar and make time and space to show up and be at the town halls, candidate meet-and-greets, and local debates. I was quite puzzled by the amount of judges and some of the positions that were elected into office on my ballot: insurance commissioner anyone? I want to show up and personally get to know these people who are vying for my vote.

Ask Questions.

There are so many things I still have questions on after filling out my ballot! I would make more time to get all my questions, concerns, and critiques addressed. Though I did do my due diligence and read through the materials and made my decision based on multiple sources, asking and having more of my questions answered  would’ve made me feel a little bit more confident about my decisions.
Participate.
I participated this time by phone banking. Next time, I would try some door-to-door canvasing, go to more group events, and find more opportunities to participate and advocate for issues and candidates I believe in.

Decide & Conquer.
My ballot is filled, and I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture in my second post, it was a very hard series of decisions. Making an informed choice, then sticking with it, was no easy feat. Maybe that’s why they make us do it in black ink pen. There are no second chances or guesses when it comes to voting—you get one vote to pen in what you believe and hope that it sticks and makes a dent in our democracy. I hope that next time around, I feel much more of a sense of conquering and completion when I’m done with my ballot.

Party!
The Facebook feed and my Gmail are infiltrated with invites to election parties.  Where have I been all these years? I’ve never attended an election party before, and by the sounds of it, there’s going to be big celebration in Seattle tomorrow. Parties are being hosted at the homes of politicians, in hotel lobbies, at banquet halls, restaurants, ballrooms, and music venues! What a great summation to the democratic process…working really hard to rally for what we believe in, then collectively celebrating when the ballots are in. That’s potentially the greatest thing about being a voter: we’re individually free and have the right to contribute to a collective, fair, and equal process in this country—and that’s enough to celebrate in itself.

This whole voting journey takes alot more time than I’d thought from my first post. In answering the question I’d posed for myself, am I a good citizen? I feel like I’m one step closer by submitting my first ballot and doing everything in my power to be as informed as I possibly can in making each decision. I feel more obligated to encourage others to research, understand the impact and power of their vote, and to show up and submit their ballot. The true answer is that a good citizen is someone who strives to continually be a better citizen.  There’s always more we can do to fulfill our civic duties.

See you next time, fellow ballot conquerers!