The election is still more than a week away, but tens of millions of Americans have already cast their votes. The 2020 election is projected to have the highest voter turnout in over a century: 150 million people and 65% of the nation’s registered voters according to Forbes.
There is no less voting buzz at Whatcom Community College as there is for the rest of the nation this election season. ASWCC has been holding panels to answer questions on how to vote and register, and they have created a Get Out the Vote program through social media, according to ASWCC President Hannah Oliver.
To help participate in the Get Out the Vote program WCC students may post a picture of themselves dropping off their ballot or voting in person – tagging @wccstudentlife on Instagram and using the hashtag #Orcasvote.
Each student’s photo will count as a $1 donation to the Orca Food Pantry, according to Paula Rotondi, a member and volunteer for the League of Women Voters. “A League of Women Voters member and her husband have pledged… up to $1,000, on behalf of the League,” she said.
The grant will hopefully increase the incentive for students to vote. “Not only are you giving your voice, but you’re also helping the students that are struggling, so you’re gaining in both ways,” said Cecilia Deleon, Civic Leadership Fellow at WCC.
“No matter what it is, whether it’s you need to register, if it’s you need to update your voter registration, or look up your elected officials, or look up your closest ballot box, or print your ballot, or look up your voters’ guide… the place to start is vote.wa.gov,” said Oliver.
The library is no longer open, so voter registration packets are not available there, according to WCC librarian Ara Taylor. So as Oliver said, Whatcom students should all register or check to update their registration through vote.wa.gov. The only material required to register through the website is a valid driver’s license, permit, or another form of ID.
If one does not have an ID or internet access available, it is still possible to register through mail or in person at a County Elections Office. The Whatcom County Election Office is open 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday. It is located on 311 Grand Ave., Suite 103 in the city of Bellingham.
Washington voters in Whatcom County should all have received their mail in ballots by Oct. 21, according to the Whatcom County Elections Office. After receiving the ballot and filling it out there are two options for how to return it – an Official Ballot Drop Box, or through the U.S. Postal Service.
For returning the ballot through a ballot box or voting in person, the deadline is Nov. 3. For the second option the deadline is Oct. 26.
Some students at WCC are not yet 18, but that doesn’t mean they have to be left out of the voting process entirely. “If you’re 16 you can still pre-register to vote in the state of Washington and then once you turn 18, you’re automatically registered and then you’ll be sent a ballot,” said Oliver.
Every person’s vote counts. “In Whatcom County and also across the United States some elections are decided by one vote or even a coin toss… because they have the exact same amount of votes,” said Oliver. “And a lot of things that people really care about…isn’t something that the President decides…a lot of times it’s the City Council.”
It can be just two or three hundred people voting on important local issues that people care about. “Local is important,” said Oliver. “Put a lot of focus on small town issues or county issues.” They aren’t any less important than issues on a national scale.
It’s important to vote because “it’s our voice, it’s who we want, we don’t want people to make that choice for us,” Deleon said. “Make it be heard. Get out there and vote. Use your voice, it’s your voice nobody else’s.”