Effort reaches out to register 200,000 voting-age adults

OLYMPIA — More than 200,000 voting-age adults in Washington, including 21,000 living in Snohomish County, are getting a special request to sign up for this year’s election.

None of those folks are registered to vote right now. All of them have, or will soon receive a postcard with instructions on how they can do so as part of a focused outreach effort by state and county election officials.

The postcard contains the requirements to be an eligible voter and the web address for registering online. There also is a toll-free phone number for those who want to obtain a paper registration form to fill out or have questions about their voting status.

“We are hoping citizens who are eligible and want to participate will go online and register by Oct. 6 so they can participate in November,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Friday. “We hope citizens receiving the postcard will realize how easy it is.”

The state is using a federal grant to cover the estimated $48,300 tab to mail the postcards. They have been sent to men and women who are at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license or identification card and are not a registered voter.

A total of 210,071 postcards went out including 21,235 to residents in Snohomish County and 2,162 to people living in Island County, according to figures provided by state elections director Lori Augino.

The largest number, 74,773, went to people in King County, with 21,117 mailed in Pierce County and 11,307 in Spokane County.

More than half of the targeted recipients, 109,391, are between the ages of 18 and 25, according to state-prepared figures. Another 44,052 are going to those aged 26-35, and 58 postcards went people who are 96 and older.

This is the third year it’s been done and election officials aren’t predicting if it’ll result in many new voters in the upcoming election.

Fewer than 10 percent of last year’s recipients ever registered.

The state mailed 140,905 postcards and it led to 6,891 new registrants in October, rising to 12,258 by August 2014, according to state election figures. In Snohomish County, the mailing of 15,966 cards produced 783 new voters in October, climbing to 1,488 by August.

The voter registration effort stems from Washington’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit created by states to improve the accuracy of voter rolls and remove barriers to voter registration.

Washington is one of the seven states that formed ERIC in 2012. Today, 12 states and the District of Columbia participate.

Though Washington’s effort reaches predominantly younger and traditionally liberal-minded adults, it’s not incited concern from any political corner, Wyman and Augino said.

“The beauty of the ERIC program is that it appeals to both sides of the aisle,” Augino said. “It’s a well-respected program that works to keep the voter rolls as clean as possible while also providing opportunities to register.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Deadline

Oct. 6 is the deadline for online and mail-in voter registrations for the Nov. 4 election. You can register in person at county election offices up until Oct. 27.

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