As election season looms, Clark College students need to be informed on the big question: how do I register to vote?
There is more than one way to register to vote in Washington and some people may be surprised that they are eligible to do so. Even though the presidential election is not until November It will be important for new voters to be registered to vote by March if they would like a say in who the next Democratic candidate will be.
On March 10, Washington votes for its Democratic presidential nominee. The nominee will face Donald Trump in the general election this November. All 50 states choose which candidate they prefer, from there each party holds a national convention to select a nominee. Registered voters should start receiving their ballots on Feb. 21.
Washington state holds open primary elections, which essentially means you are not required to declare which political party you prefer. That’s not the case for states like New York and Idaho where, in order to vote for a Democratic presidential nominee, you must be registered as a Democrat.
In Washington there are three ways you can register to vote. To vote online you must have a Washington State ID or Driver’s License (https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx). To vote through mail you can download a voter registration form online from the Office of the Secretary of State. Lastly, you can vote in person at your local county elections office. If you live in Clark County, this is the address: 1408 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA 98660.
Like many states, in order to qualify to vote, you must be at least 18 years old by the day of the election, you must be a citizen of the U.S. and must be a resident of Washington state at least 30 days before election day.
Taegon Lee is the ASCC Civics and Sustainability Director, part of his job includes engaging students to be more involved in their communities.
During welcome week, Lee holds voter registration booths to help students navigate through registering. He also ensures all major Clark offices have voter registration forms, like the Financial Aid Office, the Information Center and the Bookstore.
“I just want to engage students,” Lee said. “I think it’s good education for young students who are 18 and who can vote but don’t know how to register.”
The last day to register to vote online or through mail is eight days before election day. You can vote in person during business hours and at any time before 8 p.m. on election day.
A portion of the student body of Clark College are Running Start students who are not yet 18. This doesn’t immediately disqualify you from registering to vote. You can pre-register, you just won’t be able to officially vote until you turn 18.
If you were convicted felon, you may still be eligible to vote. Your voting rights can be restored as long as you aren’t under the Department of Corrections authority (in prison or community custody). You still have to re-register in order to receive your ballot. It’s important to note that you don’t lose your right to vote for a misdemeanor or conviction in juvenile court.
“Voting is your responsibility as a citizen,” Lee said.