Whether they're Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or a staunch independents, members of the Young Professionals of Tri-Cities are reaching out to their fellow 20- and 30-somethings to let them know how important it is to vote in the upcoming general election.
The group is putting on a "Rock the Vote" Thursdayin Richland's John Dam Plaza for voters of all ages to learn about what'll be on their ballots in November.
Most people know the Nov. 6 election will decide whether President Obama wins a second term or Republican challenger Mitt Romney gets a shot at the nation's top elected office.
But down-ticket there are dozens more races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, state Senate and House of Representatives, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner, treasurer, state Supreme Court justices and commissioner of public lands.
In addition to the statewide offices, this is the year that Benton and Franklin county residents will get a chance to vote in new county-level elected officials -- or keep the ones they have if they think they're doing a good job.
Plus there are ballot measures on whether to affirm the Legislature's vote to legalize same-sex marriage, to legalize marijuana, to allow charter schools in the state and to re-affirm a requirement for a two-thirds majority before the Legislature can raise taxes.
The Young Professionals group isn't staking out any positions at Thursday's event, but is offering a chance for local voters to get informed about the candidates and issues, as well as on-site voter registration.
Scheduled speakers include legislative candidates Brad Klippert, Jay Clough, Larry Haler and Richard Reuther; Franklin County Commission candidates Bob Koch and Al Yenney; and Benton County Commission candidates Jerome Delvin and Rick Jansons.
Participants also can get information about Doc Hastings' re-election campaign for Congress; Maria Cantwell and Michael Baumgartner's campaigns for U.S. Senate; and Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee's campaigns for Washington state governor.
The Washington Policy Center will be present with information about ballot measures and initiatives, and the Benton County Democrats and Benton County Republicans will have information about Obama and Romney's presidential campaigns.
In between all of the politics, participants can buy food and beer from vendors and enjoy a live performance by the band Goodnight Argent.
The free "Rock the Vote" event is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. John Dam Plaza is at the corner of George Washington Way and Knight Street in Richland.
For more information, email YoungProfessionalsTC@gmail.com.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org