By Terri Baker
The League of Women Voters, in concert with NAACP, is focusing on increasing the turnout of the 18 to 35-year-old voter this year. Carol Mitchell of TV Tacoma has added her voice to this effort.
By not voting or even registering to vote, young people make themselves, and their important issues, easy to ignore. Young people 18 to 35 are most likely to be hurt by cuts to social services, reduced public transportation, and changes to rental laws.
Young people should consider that elected representatives have power to:
• Bring back the draft (and include women).
• Increase how much you pay for interest rates on your student loans.
• Raise how much comes out of your paycheck for taxes and fees.
• Raise tuition at state schools.
• Fund or not fund services such as libraries, parks, kindergartens, health clinics and other low-income safety nets.
• Decide issues on your street, like when to fix potholes, set parking fees, change speed limits and fix streetlights.
Traditionally, young people comprise the smallest voting bloc. The employed and homeowners are the ones most likely to vote. Jobs and cost of housing are major factors in this election. Electing those who can get you a job and affordable housing is on the line.
Voter apathy has its costs. Voting is a matter of exercising personal power. Did you know less than 20 voters decided Washington’s governor, twice? In addition, recalling an irresponsible elected official who won out of public apathy and ignorance is very expensive.
In the words of the Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board, do not pick someone based on an Anglo-Saxon name, misleading slogans, or photogenic looks. The responsible voter needs to research the candidates’ pamphlets from the county auditor’s office, attend a candidates’ forum, and go to www.vote411.org. Yes, even for a primary.
Please make the effort. It is easy to register on line at www.piercecountywa.org/auditor. It is also easy to vote. Simply put on a stamp and drop your ballot in the mail or send it free in the 27 ballot deposit sites around the county. Then post on Facebook, “I voted.”
Terri Baker is the president of League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County. The organization can be reached at 702 Broadway, Suite 105, Tacoma, WA 98402, and (253) 272-1495.