Tuesday Jolt: UW Students Win One, Lose One

By Afternoon Jolt October 25, 2011

Today's Winner: UW Students.

Last month we reported that student activists at the UW were pushing to get a ballot drop box on campus. We wrote:

Only three of 273 registered voters in the election precinct that includes the University of Washington voted in the 2011 August 16 primary elections.

“This is a huge crisis,” Associated Students of the University of Washington Government Relations Director Andrew Lewis said in a press release hyping a proposed solution to the limp turnout.  “At a time when higher education is getting cut left and right, increasing young voter turnout is more important than ever.”

The big idea: A ballot drop box on campus. (Students can already register to vote when they sign up for classes online.) The concept comes from a program that’s already in place at Western Washington University, where turnout was 57 percent in the November 2010 election. UW’s voter turnout was 41 percent in that election.

A couple of days later, the students got the Seattle City Council to sign off on the idea.

Today, the Washington Bus, the youth GOTV (Get Out the Vote) hell-raisers, report that the students got their wish: A voting box on campus.

As mentioned earlier, the 43rd District Dems sent a resolution to Sherril Huff, the King County Elections Director, to have a ballot box placed on the UW campus.

Today brings good news, as Huff has confirmed that the University of Washington will in fact get a ballot box before our next presidential election.

"Thank you for your message and resolution," said Huff in an e-mail to 43rd District Democratic Chair Scott Forbes.  "The University of Washington will have a ballot drop box in place on campus for the 2012 presidential year election. This is one of the positive means available to us to foster an increase in voter participation by young adults."

Placing a ballot box on campus means that students - young voters - will now be able to cast their vote without having to buy stamps.  And not only will this ballot box be a boon (say that three times fast) for UW students, it'll be the nearest ballot box for all residents of the University District, Roosevelt and most of Wallingford.

"I think the new ballot box could have a huge impact," remarked Josh Castle, the Vice-Chair for Events of the 43rd District Democrats.  "Future elections will hinge on turning out the youth vote.  This is especially the case in our state which is famous for nail-biter close elections."

"The 2012 ballot will include potentially one of the closest Governor's races in the history of our state, as well as issues that resonate with many young people.  We could be voting on same sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.  The fate of these races and ballot measures could very well be determined by youth voter turnout!"

Today's Loser: UW Students. Those Who Don't Ride the Bus, Anyway.

UW students who don't use their U-PASS student bus passes, which provide a free ride on most Puget Sound buses and other transit options, will no longer be able to opt out of paying $76 a quarter for the passes. Previously, students could choose to forfeit their pass and get a refund on tuition.

The UW decided to make the passes, which bring in $3,000,000 a year, mandatory in order to preserve the program, Q13 reports.
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