Andrejs Pidjass

Less than 10 percent of people age 18-24 voted in the last election, says the Washington Secretary of State. About half of them are registered, but they don't turn in their ballots.

Counties with large numbers of Hispanic young people appear to do worse -- but Benton County didn't do much better than Franklin, Adams and Yakima counties.

Franklin County saw a huge increase in voter registration in 2013.

So there doesn't appear to be any reason other than young adults just not taking the time to fill out the ballot and mail it back or drop it off.

The ramifications of this can be huge. When lawmakers are forced to decide between funding higher education in the Mid Columbia (CBC, WSU Tri-Cities, CWU and Yakima Valley Community College) or spend the money on Medicare, roads or lowering taxes, what do you think they'll choose?

What motive do lawmakers have to fund low-income preschools? Why should they care about minimum-wage workers when they're elected by older, more established voters?

Pot sales will stay illegal in the Mid Columbia because people who want to buy marijuana aren't voting.

When lawmakers plan for economic development, they'll have no incentive to help out people new to the work force in entry-level positions.

They won't care about low-income housing since older voters afford higher rents and mortgages easier.

Plans for a new Tri-Cities aquatic center failed because only older voters returned the ballots for that election.

Tri-Cities is a wonderful place to live and will only become more-so as it grows. I have no complaints with our city, county and state lawmakers. If young people continue to ignore ballots everything will be just fine, but they should be aware of the consequences.

[SOURCE: Tri-City Herald]