Ross: Tech literate voters are needed to save ferry reservations

Apr 27, 2023, 9:28 AM | Updated: 9:40 am

FILE - A voter moves to cast her ballot at an electronic counting machine at a polling site in the ...

FILE - A voter moves to cast her ballot at an electronic counting machine at a polling site in the Brooklyn Museum, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Young voters who have been critical to Democratic successes in recent elections showed signs that their enthusiasm may be waning in November’s midterms. That's a potential warning sign for a party that will need their strong backing heading into 2024. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

I heard some frustration during hour #1 of the Gee & Ursula Show yesterday.

Mike Lewis was filling in for Ursula, and he was talking about the latest problem with a state-run website, that being the reservation system for the San Juan Ferry routes.

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“Why is it from the employment security department, everywhere else in the state, that we have these systems crashing when it seems to me like there’s no state, or very few other states, that have a higher concentration of talent, and yet we have a system that we don’t seem to be able to manage the basic interface between the public and the state as it relates to websites,” Lewis said.

And it didn’t make sense to Gee either.

“Yo, Microsoft, Google, and all of them, could you help a guy out!” Gee said.

Why is it that the government of a state with arguably one of the highest percentages of geniuses in the world can’t run a website?

So I went to the Washington Secretary of State website and looked at the age breakdown of voters in Washington.

Listen to the numbers, among eligible voters ages 35-44 – middle age – 29% don’t vote. Disappointing but not too surprising.

Then we get down to the 25-34 age group. The group that makes up the bulk of the tech industry – the percentage of non-voters goes up to 34%. More than one in three just throw out their ballots.

Finally, there’s the 18 to 24 group, where 48% don’t vote. Almost half of their ballots – straight to the garbage.

In contrast, among people 45 and older, my age group – only 23% toss their ballots, 77% vote.

So ask yourself – is that a recipe for electing a tech-savvy legislature? Where the highest voting rate is among people who still have a telephone bolted to a wall in the kitchen?

I believe that if everybody under 40 actually used their ballots to elect legislators who look and think like them, there would be a whole new set of expectations. You’d have members who – just like Gee said – would look at an outdated state website, jump on Skype and say, “Yo Microsoft! You guys update a billion computers every other month. You think you can figure out how to get people to Orcas Island?”

So there’s your problem. Young people are letting my age group run everything. And yes, I do actually have a telephone bolted to a wall in my kitchen.

Although – as my co-workers will tell you – I’ve been doing all I can to appeal to the youth demographic. In fact, I was planning to close this commentary with a string of clever emojis. But I can’t figure out how to get them to display on my GE transistor radio.

So I’ll just give a time check using my large-print digital clock: It’s 7:38.

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Ross: Tech literate voters are needed to save ferry reservations