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Single Day Voter Registration Record Smashed In Washington State On Debate Sunday

Washington Secretary of State's Office
Monday is the last day Washingtonians can register online in time to vote in the November election.

Washington state set a new one-day record for voter registrations Sunday, topping 23,000 in a single day.

So what was behind the big spike in new voter sign-ups?

Say what you will about Sunday's second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It fired up thousands of people to go online to register to vote.

"They did in spades. It has been an amazing surge to behold,” Washington Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons said.

He said the surge in voter registrations during and after the debate got an added boost from two big tech companies. You may have noticed an on-screen reminder to register to vote on your smartphone or computer recently.

"Both Facebook and Google have been extremely good citizens in our opinion this fall,” Ammons said.

Ammons said old-school voter registration drives involving canvassers sitting at a folding table or going door-to-door still happen. But in the Northwest that's now taking a back seat to motor-voter and online registration.

The Democratic challenger in this year’s Secretary of State election race said Washington should permit Election Day registration, or “same day voter registration” as she puts it, since Election Day stretches over several weeks under Washington’s vote-by-mail format.

“The fewer barriers to an equitable system, the better,” candidate Tina Podlodowski tweeted Monday.

Republican incumbent Kim Wyman has said she does not support same day registration, which would entail people registering and voting on the spot, because it would put too much stress on county elections officials.

In Oregon, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Brad Avakian proposes to expand Oregon’s Motor Voter program by which driver license applicants are automatically registered to vote. Avakian also wants to include other interactions with state agencies beyond driver licensing.

“This will include filing for unemployment, paying taxes and registering for hunting and fishing licenses,” Avakian said on his campaign website.

Avakian’s Republican opponent for the open seat, Dennis Richardson, wants to focus on Oregon voters who are on the rolls, but classified as “inactive.”

“Over 440,000 Oregonians are registered with the Secretary of State as being ‘inactive,’ and therefore, do not receive a ballot,” Richardson wrote on his campaign website.

Monday is the last day Washingtonians can register online in time to vote in the November election. Tuesday is the deadline to postmark a mail-in voter registration card. True procrastinators can register in person at their county elections office until Halloween.

The last day to register to vote in the November election in Oregon is also fast approaching. It comes early next week on October 18.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.