NCW — With under a month until voters receive mail-in ballots, the NCW Libraries held a Zoom forum on Wednesday with the NCW Young Voters and the Young Professionals of NCW to persuade younger voters to show up at the polls this November.

On the national level, voter turnout rate for 18- to 29-year-olds increased in the last two elections. While 20% voted in the 2014 midterm election, 36% voted in the 2018 midterms for a 79% increase in turnout, according to the Census Bureau. In the 2016 general elections, though, young voter turnout still trailed that of older generations, but were the only age group to report an increase in turnout as compared to the 2012 general election.

The NCW Young Voters is a nonpartisan coalition formed in Leavenworth of young voters advocating for youth voter turnout and engagement in North Central Washington. The group focuses on technology and social media to reach young voters, especially during the pandemic when face-to-face meetings with candidates prove difficult.

Panelists included:

  • Donny Guerrero: community engagement specialist for Molina Healthcare
  • Stephanie Jordan: campaign worker for District 12 representative candidate Adrianne Moore
  • Alex Romero: immigration attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Kenzie Converse: member of NCW Young Voters
  • Isabela Rodriguez: a University of Washington graduate and first-time voter come this November.

The forum addressed the question: Why don’t young people vote? For many young voters, their voice can feel unimportant, they are uncertain about the registration process, they are uninformed about the candidates or they never learned the importance of civic engagement from their elders.

That was the main roadblock for Guerrero as a young voter. Growing up in a Latinx household, he said he didn’t recognize the importance of voting because lawmakers seemed disengaged with his community. He added that the 2016 election seemed to ignite a call to action to communities that were previously ambivalent about voting.

While young voters may feel their vote is unimportant on the national level, their vote on the local level can have a large impact on the policies that directly affect their surrounding communities. Panelists emphasized that not voting may not cause harm to yourself, but it could be detrimental to others.

“For us to just sit here is selfish,” Guerrero said.

It’s now easier than ever to register, too. Those 18 or older can go to voter.votewa.gov and register online with their Washington ID. Social media apps like Instagram and Facebook promote voter registration for users and offer links to help sign up. The Community for the Advancement of Family Education (CAFE) in Wenatchee is also hosting voter registration events at their offices, 766 S. Mission St.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” said Romero. “Certain systems are upheld when young people are passive.”

Once election day rolls around, how do you know your vote is counted? Voting is public information and can be found on county elections websites, including Chelan and Douglas. The sites show who is registered and if they voted but not their individual votes for candidates.

Find more on voter registration and local elections at co.chelan.wa.us/elections or douglascountywa.net/elected-offices.