Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed visited Shoreline Community College PUB on Tuesday to encourage voting and student involvement in politics and government.
Reed, a Republican, and the 14th Secretary of State of Washington state, is in the midst of touring 45 college campuses across the state in his final term to preach the importance of getting involved in the political process.
"You need to get engaged," he said. "Think about getting involved with candidates and issues."
Washington makes voting relatively easy by allowing online voter registration at www.votewa.gov and through vote-by-mail balloting, one of two states, Oregon being other, to do so.
Shoreline Community College was celebrating College Civics Week, April 9-13, to coincide with Reed's visit.
"Let's really step up and understand our voices are incredibly important, not just in our state but nationally as well," said Luke Tchao, Prime Minister of the Shoreline CC student parliament, who introduced Reed.
Alan Charnley, 26, a second-year SCC student who graduated from Shorewood and grew up in Richmond Beach, won Jeopardy! style trivia contest about Washington state government, politics and history.
Charnley, who is treasurer of the college's Worldly Philosophers and Dismal Scientists' Society Club, said he felt strongly that local elections such as City Council and School Board should be open to high school students when they turn 16.
"I feel the voting age should be lowered," in those cases, he said.
Among other events will be an open forum on issues affecting the Shoreline campus from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 11. Workshops on the history of voting will be held in the Quiet Dining Room from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 12.
Reed also has found himself in the middle of an unusual circumstance following the resignation of 1st District Congressman Jay Inslee, who is running for governor as a democrat.
Inslee, whose district office in Shoreline and represents Shoreline and most of Lake Forest Park, is leaving his post vacant until November. A special election is required by federal law, according to decision by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Reed's office is in charge of managing a special election to fill Inslee's seat for essentially the month of December 2012 only while the newly drawn 1st District seat is filled in a separate election.
The special election will cost up to $1 million but the costs will be borne by the state, $725,000 for the election and $225,000 for voter education, Reed said. The counties, King, Snohomish and Kitsap, will be reiumbursed or not be charged.
"It's a very unusual quirk only because we have a new redistricting plan," Reed said.
The $1 million figure may not be completely accurate, although Republican supporters of Republican gubenatorial candidate and current Attorney General Rob McKenna's have been making a big deal about that figure and want Inslee's campaign to foot the bill.
Reed, who is the Thurston County co-chair for McKenna's campaign, said he's able to draw the line between how he conducts himself as Secretary of State and his private activities such as campaigning and people usually see that.
About 75 Shoreline Community College students and staff attended the event. Tables for voter registration were set up outside the PUB's main hall as well.