Everything you (and the Simpsons) ever wanted to know about registering to vote

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A couple returns their ballots on a p Election Day.

This story originally appeared on What's Good 206

National Voter Registration Day is today and Americans are feeling the heat this election season, with two very different Democrat and Republican candidate nominees. Will our country have its first female president or a president who’s making headlines for his controversial statements?

Millennials might get the final say.

According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data conducted by Pew Research Center, the number of millennials (ages 18–35 in 2016) is now almost equal to the number of baby boomers (ages 52–70 in 2016) in the electorate.

In Washington State, less than half of people between the ages of 18 and 34 were registered to vote for the 2014 election. Eighty percent of King County residents in 2015 were registered voters and as of last month, people ages 17–34 made up 25 percent of all registered voters in Washington.

Why the low percentage of young registered voters? It’s not that millennials are disengaged from the election. Aside from apathy, there are many practical reasons millennials don’t register to vote. Millennials move around more frequently than older voters, they are less likely to own a television and thus miss political ads and many say they are just plain frustrated with the political landscape these days.


Polls and research point to a common conclusion: Young people think their votes don’t matter and many find the registration and voting process confusing.

The fate of our country could lie with millennial voters. To make sure your voice is heard, register to vote by following one of these three simple steps.



1. Register online without having to change out of your pajamas!

The Washington Secretary of State's website is open 24 hours, seven days a week.  To register online, you will need:

If you do not have either of these, you can still register by mail.



2. Fill out the paperwork and register by mail.

The only things you’ll need are:

  • A printer
  • A pen
  • An envelope with appropriate postage
  • Your Washington State ID card or driver license OR Social Security Number.

Download and print a voter registration form and mail it to King County Elections. Forms are available in many languages.

Don’t have a computer or printer handy? Want to make sure your personal information is in good hands? There’s a third option!



3. Register in person.

If you prefer to register the good old-fashioned way, you can register to vote in person at either of these two locations:

You have until Oct. 10 to register online or by mail (Oct. 10, though, is a federal holiday so it would be best to mail any forms early to avoid potential questions about having envelopes postmarked in time) and until Oct. 31 if you are a new voter and want to register in person. A ballot will be mailed to you 18 days before the election if you register by the deadlines.

Incentive: You may even get a free sticker when you drop off your ballot! 



Still have questions? Visit Rock the Vote, the largest nonprofit in the nation which has used pop culture and technology to inspire young adults to get involved in political activity.

Local Resources

Check your registration

Register online

Print registration form

Find your county elections office

Update your mailing address

Find a dropbox or voting center


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About the Authors & Contributors

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela was a 2016 summer intern with What’s Good 206. Rhea is majoring in journalism with minors in English and diversity at the University of Washington. She is also the Digital Media Editor at the International Examiner and a writer for The Daily of the University of Washington. She was named one of the inaugural UW Husky 100 and was also one of the recipients of the 2016 Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship. See her previous work on her website and find her on Twitter @rheapanela_.