Editorial: Register to vote, make a real change

By The Easterner, Editorial Board

An earlier version of this editorial stated that Republican candidate Cathy McMorris Rodgers received 47.8 percent of the vote in the District 5 primary and 1,435 more votes than Democrat opponent Lisa Brown (46.8 percent). It has been updated to reflect that McMorris Rodgers tallied 49.3 percent of the vote, while Brown received 45.4 percent. She also got 7,951 more votes than Brown.

We are nearly halfway through the first term of Donald Trump’s presidency, which means one major thing: midterm elections. Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day, marking 42 days until the Tuesday, November 6: Election Day.

Those interested can register in-person, by mail or online. Deadlines for registration vary by state, but generally people must submit paperwork between two weeks and a month before Election Day. (In Washington, registration is to be completed by October 29 in-person and October 8 online or by mail.

It is no secret that the United States has a voter problem. According to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, the U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout. In the 2016 presidential election, 55.7 percent of the U.S. voting age population cast ballots. Although a slight uptick from 2012, that ranked 26th out of 32 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

However, when looking at registered voters who cast a ballot, the U.S. ranks fairly high (fourth at 86.8 percent). That means when people do register, they will get out and vote. The problem? We’re not getting enough citizens to actually apply. In November 2016, there were 245.5 million Americans aged 18 or older, about 157.6 million of which reported being registered to vote, according to The Census Bureau.

All 435 seats of the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats of the Senate will be contested in the upcoming election. Also, 39 state and territorial governorships will be up for vote in addition to several state and local elections.

In Washington state, Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican Susan Hutchison will battle it out for a spot in the Senate. Cantwell has been the state’s senator since 2001. Cantwell received 55.2 percent of the vote in the primary (434,710 more votes), while Hutchison received 24.2 percent.

As for the House: In our District (5), Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers received 49.3 percent of the vote in the primary (7,951 more votes), while Democrat Lisa Brown received 45.4 percent.

With so many spots available in decision-making positions, it is increasingly important to get out and vote, especially as young people. Substantially fewer people tend to register and vote in non-presidential elections, but this is a year when real change can be made.