Getting out the (youth) vote


Nate Blanchard watches student vote.
Nate Blanchard looks on as student demonstrates ballot drop. (Marc Studer photo)

When Nate Blanchard and other members of the UW Bothell Student Legislative Action Committee were registering fellow students to vote, there was one statistic Blanchard liked to share.

“In the state of Washington in an off-year election like 2017, the average voting age is 62 years old,” said Blanchard, the director of government relations for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell.

To rally the youth vote, the committee registered or updated addresses for 217 voters at UW Bothell and Cascadia College from the start of school until the Oct. 7 cutoff.

Then the committee went to work on a get-out-the vote campaign, making it easy to drop off ballots at a locking metal box on loan from the King County Elections office. The box is available on the plaza from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until Nov. 7. Blanchard takes responsibility for dropping off the ballots each day at the county election drop box at Bothell City Hall.

“What’s very concerning, not disheartening, but concerning, is in this last election cycle in the state of Washington, turnout for the 18-24 age group was about 17 percent, which was just abysmal for a presidential election,” said Blanchard (law, economics and public policy ’17), who is now a master’s in policy studies student planning to graduate in 2018.

When young voters are disconnected from the process, it’s easy to become apathetic, Blanchard said. But now, many have become aware they can’t bypass the ballot.

ASUWB banner“I think it dawned on a lot of students, regardless of the field you’re in — business, education, health — laws and policies and politics greatly affect what those fields look like in our country,” Blanchard said.

Other political activities for the Student Legislative Action Committee and student government are a collaborative candidate forum at Lake Washington Tech, and lobby days for students during the legislative session in Olympia.

“Whatever students are passionate about, I want to help them get connected with politics,” Blanchard said.