OLYMPIA...Secretary of State Kim Wyman is getting ready to go back to college – several of them, actually.
Wyman, who took office in January, is set to embark on her first College Civics tour, reaching out to students about the importance of voting and giving back to their community.
Wyman this week kicks off the 16-campus tour with a stop at nearby South Puget Sound Community College on Wednesday, followed by a Thursday trip to Pullman to visit Washington State University. The tour resumes in May with stops at more than a dozen campuses throughout the state. Details about the May visits will be announced soon.
"I really enjoyed talking with college and high school students about voting and elections when I was Thurston County Auditor, so I'm really looking forward to visiting college campuses and talking with students about why their votes matter," said Wyman, who has a daughter who graduates from college this spring and a son who enters college in the fall.
Wyman will take part in student-designed campus activities and discussions focused on encouraging the state's youngest voters to participate in elections and be more involved in campus life and their community.
The visit to SPSCC will include a free lunch from 11 a.m. to noon in the Percival Room with student leaders and the college president, Dr. Tim Stokes. The lunch is available to all SPSCC students. (Note to media: The best time to interview Secretary Wyman during her visit is between 11:50 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.)
At WSU, Wyman will meet with students from WSU Panhellenic Council from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 512. She also will speak during the President's Leadership Awards ceremony at 6 p.m. (Note to media: The best time to interview Secretary Wyman during her WSU visit is between 4:20 and 4:40 p.m. or after the awards ceremony.)
Sam Reed, Wyman's predecessor as Secretary of State, began the college civics tour program in 2006. Costs are covered by the federal government.
Voters ages 18-24 comprised less than 8 percent of the state's population that voted in the 2012 General Election. Those 65 and over made up almost 24 percent of the voter turnout in 2012, followed by ages 55-64 (21 percent), 45-54 (19.38 percent), 35-44 (15.47 percent) and ages 25-34 (13.68 percent).
"Over the years, we've seen a greater number of younger people voting. While that is encouraging, more of them need to register and vote to have the same effect on elections that their parents and grandparents have," Wyman said. "Younger voters are just as impacted by what their government does as older generations. Voting gives them the best chance to choose what kind of government they want."
Wyman said an "off-year" election like the 2013 General Election this fall usually features many local positions on the ballot, like city council races.
"These ‘off-year' elections are actually very important because what happens at the local government level can affect us more directly than who we elect as our nation's president or to the U.S. Senate. Yet, there usually is a lower voter turnout in these elections compared to presidential elections," Wyman said.
Since 1980, the average voter turnout in Washington for an odd-year election has been nearly 51 percent, compared to a 79 percent turnout for presidential elections and almost 62 percent in midterm elections.
In 2011, Washington's last "off-year" election, the voter turnout for 18-24-year-olds was about 23 percent, compared to nearly 79 percent for voters 65 and older.
The College Civics Tour is organized by the Office of Secretary of State's College Civics Program and funded by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a federal law that was adopted in 2002 to help with voter education.
Note to editors and producers: Members of the media are welcome to attend the events hosted at local schools. To schedule an interview with Secretary Wyman or make other arrangements, please contact Brian Zylstra at email@example.com or (360) 902-4173 or David Ammons at (360) 902-4140 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about specific locations of events on campuses, please contact JulieAnne Behar with the Elections Division's Education and Outreach team at (360) 725-5795 or email@example.com.