Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Jan. 25, 2022

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Local View: Observance vital for democracy

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Even if you are a longtime resident of Washington, you may not be aware of Temperance and Good Citizenship Day. It is an odd title and perhaps the first thing that one may ask, “Is everyone to become a teetotaler that day? Is that what leads to the second part?”

In fact, in the early days, temperance and women’s right to vote went hand in hand. However, Temperance and Good Citizenship Day has a slightly different connotation. Temperance in this case implies peaceful civic engagement. The headline on the secretary of state’s webpage on this event states that it “is meant to promote civics education and peaceful citizen engagement.”

The law first was passed in 1923 and stated that on Jan. 16 of each year — or the preceding Friday if the 16th falls on a nonschool day — will be the observance of Temperance and Good Citizenship. It was mandated then, but has evolved over the years.

Now, several things are expected to happen on that day.

High school teachers are to conduct voter registration in each history or social studies class attended by seniors, giving students enough time to fill out the forms in class.

Further instructions in RCW 28A.230.150 state the superintendent of public instruction is to provide materials for voter registration, including electronic registration. The superintendent must consult with the secretary of state to make sure voter registration forms and material are updated. There is even a goal of achieving 50,000 new voter registrations for 17- and 18-year-olds each year.

Interestingly, in 2013 a bipartisan committee attempted to repeal this mandate along with some other school mandates. It did not pass. In fact, another bill was passed that strengthened the ability for all students to register in their classrooms.

Washington has continued to be a leader in voter advancement. In 2022, young voters who will be 18 by the time of the November general election can vote in the primary.

Temperance and Good Citizenship Day will be celebrated on Friday. Teachers looking for support to celebrate the day should contact the League of Women Voters of Clark County at lwvclarkcounty@gmail.com.


Teresa Torres is Civics Education Committee Chair for the League of Women Voters of Clark County.

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