Call for cross-generational “watch parties” activates debates in Washington State

AARP and Debate Coalition team up to mobilize youth vote

 Seattle, Wash. (Oct. 2, 2020) – AARP Washington and the Washington State Debate Coalition empowered young voters today to participate in virtual “watch parties” for the upcoming gubernatorial and lieutenant governor debates and help lead us into the future.

For the first time in its history, the people of Washington state will see candidates debate during an ongoing public health emergency. The Washington State Debate Coalition (WSDC), led by Seattle CityClub and sponsored by AARP Washington, will host gubernatorial candidates Loren Culp and Jay Inslee in a live debate on Oct. 7 at 8 pm PST, and Denny Heck and Marko Liias, who are running for lieutenant governor, in a debate on Oct. 22, 2020, also at 8 pm PST.

To enhance these events, WSDC has developed a Debate Watch Party Pack, including games, trivia and quiz available at Along with debate sponsor AARP Washington, the WSDC issued the following tips for older adults to boost intergenerational virtual debate participation:

        1. For starters, it’s a family affair. Speak with your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and those who are closest to you. Ask them if they are registered and planning to vote, and get them to watch the debates with you! Share why you think it’s important to vote. If needed, show them how and where to register. Extend the offer to their friends, as well.
        1. Make it personal. Make all connections through empathy and listening. Do not admonish non-voters, instead share your story, relate how elections have shaped your life, acknowledge regrets if you failed to vote and wished you had.
        2. Get technical. Meet young people where they’re at. Download TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, and talk with them online or via text. Show that you care about their future and encourage them to take part in their own destiny.
        1. Go old school.  Write a personal note. A hand-written card is a lost art with younger generations who grew up with emails and social media. But personal notes give you time for deep storytelling. You have a lifetime of stories to tell about how voting matters.

While older populations in Washington tend to vote in large numbers, younger generations, particularly voters who have just turned old enough to vote, are less likely to cast a ballot. Cathy MacCaul, Advocacy Director at AARP Washington, a major sponsor of the WSDC, says this fact is disturbing, even mystifying to experienced voters.

“Our members care deeply about the voting process and they are concerned that younger generations do not understand the power of each and every vote,” said Cathy MacCaul at AARP Washington, a WSDC sponsor. “This year, the virtual format gives our older adults a chance to engage in a conversation with younger generations, particularly with the many college students following social issues while attending school online at home.”

“Washington has a long tradition of open political debates and we are proud to be the nonpartisan organization that brings transparent candidate discourse to all of the state’s citizens,” said Laura Lockard, chairperson of the WSDC and board member of Seattle CityClub. “This year, we have made access to the debates available on every screen, from phone and tablet, to desktop and television. In addition, we have developed a question submittal site where anyone in the state can suggest a question for the candidates. This is the first time that questions will come from everywhere in the state, not just within a debate hall.”

Questions for the gubernatorial race can be entered here.

Questions for the lieutenant governor’s races can be entered here.

The gubernatorial debate will be broadcast live on KCTS 9, KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, NWPB, and TVW, and aired on KUOW 94.9 FM. Q13 (KCPQ) will air the pre-recorded debate at 9pm. All of these broadcast media are partners with the coalition. The debate will also be live streamed on,,,,,, and

The WSDC and its partners are committed to the safety and security of all candidates, staff and volunteers involved in the upcoming debates while our state continues fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, debates will be held at the broadcast facilities of TVW in Olympia, Wash., where all public health guidelines for social gatherings and face coverings will be followed.


About the WA State Debate Coalition

Founded by Seattle CityClub in 2016, the Washington State Debate Coalition has produced seven public debates, viewed more than 1.5 million total times, covering gubernatorial elections, U.S. Senate races, and more. The WSDC is supported every election cycle by media, education and civic partners, all committed to the belief that making public debates available to all is crucial to a functioning democracy. It is sponsored by AARP Washington and BNSF Railway. To see all WSDC 2020 partners, and to access free Educational Resources and a WSDC FAQ, visit


About the Premiere Media Partners

The following media outlets are the WSDC’s distinguished partners for the 2020 debate season (in alphabetical order): Cascade Public Media, KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, KUOW, Northwest Public Broadcasting, Q13 (KCPQ) and TVW.


About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.


About Seattle CityClub 

Seattle CityClub is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization improving the civic health of the Puget Sound region by providing programs that bridge politics, sectors and generations to inform and engage residents and community leaders. For more information, visit


Media contact

Alexander Wheeler

Program Manager, Seattle CityClub