State needs program to reach young votersMaybe this is one more thing for us to talk about when we get around to talking next week.
The Olympian's article on the recent mock student election underscores the concern many of us have about the "political literacy" of the next generation of voters. All of us should be alarmed that only 4.4 percent of eligible 18- to 21-year-olds in Thurston County - the seat of our state government - actually vote.
Even more alarming is the fact that young people don't participate in civic processes because, as the article points out, they don't understand or feel comfortable with such processes.
That's why I have asked my fellow state legislators to join me in urging Gov. Chris Gregoire to include sufficient funds in the 2007-09 state budget to support a public-private effort to develop a student election and civic education program.
The prototype for such a program would be hands-on, Internet driven and age-appropriate to capture and hold student interest. The goal will be to promote a practical familiarity with actual campaign and election "mechanics," not just the philosophical underpinnings of our system of government. In my view, this will encourage greater participation when such students reach voting age.
Thank you for highlighting this issue in your paper, and I urge you and your readers to join us in supporting this effort.
Rep. Sam Hunt, 22nd Legislative District
I like the idea of teaching civics via the internet (and here), so I think a TVW like effort (a non-profit funded by the state) would work.
I also like that he started with the example of voting, but broadened his argument to "great participation," implying that it isn't just voting we should be worried about, but rather deeper participation like lobbying local government, civil discussion and organizing (boy that sounds heavy).