GRC Pushes for Student Voter Registration
Thursday, Sep. 04, 2014
(photo from The Utah Statesman Online and courtesy of Government Relations Council)
The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.
GRC Pushes for Student Voter Registration
By Jeff Dahdah, The Utah Statesman, September 4, 2014
Utah State University’s Government Relations Council has partnered with the office of Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox with a goal [to] have at least 500 students registered to vote by Oct. 6.
Casey Saxton, student advocate vice president and chair of the GRC, said he’s confident the council will meet its goal, considering the success at Day on the Quad and the College of Humanities and Social Science’s A Light on a Hill; 138 students registered to vote between the two events.
“We’re working closely with USU Democrats and USU Republicans, and they will also be doing registration drives,” Saxton said. “I really do think it’s very, very possible that we will exceed our goal of 500 and exceed that number.”
Next Wednesday, Sept. 10, the lieutenant governor’s office is bringing the Road to Registration Tour to the Taggart Student Center patio, where students will also have the opportunity to register. Registration will be completed using iPads; students only need to bring a valid driver’s license to register.
As an extra incentive, USU’s GRC will be competing against other universities in what the the lieutenant governor’s office is calling the Campus Cup. Saxton said the council doesn’t have the complete set of rules or regulations for the competition and details are still unclear, but will be announced once clearer communication is made. However, he’s confident USU will be successful in the competition.
“I think it gives us an incentive to work harder,” Saxton said. “It gives us a fun incentive to really get out and register students to vote. I think the competition aspect will motivate more students to register and I think we have a really good shot of winning.”
From now until October, the GRC will hold several additional voting drives to give students the opportunity to register in their voting precinct. A driver’s license and a current address is all they need to complete the registration, which is done by filling out a card.
Registered voters in Cache County will find the voting process to be different this year, as voting by mail is now the county standard. The Cache County Council voted to swap polling booths for the mail-only process in August.
Andy Pierucci, director of the GRC, said this new system will dramatically affect students because they tend to move to new housing locations year by year.
“I’m really concerned with the possibility of ballots being sent to students where they’re not living so mailboxes will be stuffed with ballots that are not going to people who are supposed to vote with them,” Pierucci said. “The possibility for voter fraud is crazy. I don’t think that a ton of students are actually going to do that, but it puts into question the integrity of the election.”
Due to this change in Cache County’s voting process, Pierucci said the GRC will have to educate students on the importance of updating their addresses.
“I moved into a new complex this year…and when I opened my mailbox I had mail for residents that probably haven’t lived there for two to three years,” he said. “You’ve got these mailboxes that are stacked with mail for students who don’t live there anymore and that’s the norm.”
Saxton said this change in policy could be an advantage for students who perhaps haven’t been involved in the county’s electoral process in the past.
“It’s hard to say what will happen and I don’t really think that we will fully know the effect of the change until we go through it at least once,” he said. “I think it will certainly be a change in the culture for students and for all voters in general. I’d like to think it will increase student turnout because the ballot will be delivered to their doorstep.”
Although some students are registered to vote outside of Cache County, perhaps in their hometown, Pierucci said being involved in local politics can shape a student’s experience at USU.
“If students continue to not register to vote and continue to ignore what’s going on, they’ll continue to be ignored by elected officials and we won’t have a strong voice in how our lives are affected by their decisions,” he said. “When students register, when students become involved in the process, they have just as much of a say as anybody else.”