Washington’s 16- and 17-year-old citizens are more likely to become lifelong voters due to the legislature’s passage of a bill to enact the Future Voter Program.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who proposed the Future Voter Program House Bill 1513, said she’s grateful to members of the Senate and House of Representatives who agreed on the policy she expects will increase participation in Washington state elections.
“We know that kids who get interested in civics at an early age tend to become active lifelong voters,” Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, said in a press release. “The system doesn’t work if citizens don’t get involved and make their voices heard through the ballot.”
The bill requires high school social studies, civics and history teachers in Washington to coordinate voter registration events that coincide with Temperance and Good Citizenship Day, which falls annually around mid-January. Additionally, the Superintendent of Public Instruction must produce a program for teachers to use on Temperance and Good Citizenship Day.
As a protective measure, HB 1513 exempts all information provided by minors from the Public Records Act until they turn 18, and requires the Office of Secretary of State to obtain a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or Identicard signature from the Department of Licensing. Future voters’ status will remain pending until it is determined that they will turn 18 before the next election.
Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, as well as documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington.