State eligible voters fail to register, leaving them out of democratic process

Statistics compiled by the state Office of Financial Management show that Washington’s voting age population in 2009 was 5,086,705. Yet, as of the latest count, there are 3,556,618 Washington residents registered to vote, leaving nearly a third of voters out of the workings of democracy.

A key deadline is approaching for voters who want to register to vote in the general election on Nov. 2.

Monday, Oct. 4, is the deadline for citizens to register online or via mail, or to transfer or update their voter registration status. Citizens can click here: Secretary of State's Web site to register online or to print out a mail-in voter registration form.

“It’s disappointing that about 30 percent of the people who are old enough to vote in Washington haven’t even registered,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed. “Elections impact all of our lives, and I think it’s really important that more residents here register to vote so they can have a voice on how our government is run.”

Washington is one of eight states that allows voter registration and updates via the Internet. According to U.S. Census figures for 2008, 14 percent of nonvoters nationwide said they did not vote because they missed their state’s voter registration deadline. Overall, 60 million eligible voters throughout America did not register that year.

“There is too much at stake this year to not vote,” said Reed, Washington’s chief elections officer. “But you can’t vote unless you’re registered. Do it before it’s too late.”

“If you haven’t registered to vote or if you need to update your registration, you need to do it soon,” Reed said. “It’s easier, faster and more convenient than ever. If your voting information is outdated, you have plenty of time to correct it with your county elections office so you can vote in this key election.”

Reed noted that the November election includes the high-profile U.S. Senate battle between incumbent Patty Murray and challenger Dino Rossi, all nine congressional seats, all 98 state House seats, 25 state Senate seats, judicial contests and many local races, as well as six statewide initiatives and three other ballot propositions.

Oct. 25 is the in-person registration deadline for brand new Washington registrations. Voters need to fill out and turn in a voter registration form at their county elections office. Go to the Secretary of State's Web site or visit a county Web site to get more information about voter registration and candidates listed on the general election ballot.

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