Student Government Seeks Early Voting For Utah Students In Fall Election

This story was written by Ryan Shelton, Daily Utah Chronicle
The Associated Students of the University of Utahis workingclosely with the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office and U administrators to open an early voting station on campus for the general elections this fall-a move they hope will boost student turnout and recruit new poll workers.

ASUU Government Relations Director Jordan Breighner said previous attempts to bring early voting to the U have been curbed by logistical problems, but the excitement surrounding the 2008 presidential election has motivated everyone to work out the kinks.

"It's essentially a done deal," Breighner said. "This election is like a perfect storm that has everybody, especially young voters, eager to get out and vote. A lot of students who are registered to vote in places like Draper can't always make the commute. An early voting station on campus would solve all that."

Utah first allowed early voting in 2006 when the state switched to electronic voting machines in response to the Help America Vote Act the Congress passed in 2002 in an attempt to fix errors made in the 2000 presidential election.

Early voting stations, which will open two weeks prior to election day, can be used by registered voters within a given county, regardless of their usual polling location.

Breighner said ASUU has reserved a room in the Union for the early voting period. Student leaders are still working to secure free parking for poll workers and parking validation for voters-what he called the last, crucial step in bringing early voting to the U.

ASUU is scheduled to meet with members of U Commuter Services in June to discuss these issues.

U faculty members are also excited about the possibility of early voting on campus.

"I'm thrilled that the request has been made," said Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics. "Early voting is critical because people live such active, busy lives. Early voting gives more people an opportunity to participate in the political process."

Twelve percent of voters in Salt Lake County took advantage of early voting in the 2006 general election, but with overall turnout expected to nearly double this year, Salt Lake County Chief Deputy Clerk Jason Yocom said he anticipates 20 percent of registered voters in Salt Lake City will hit the polls early this fall.

"Early voting really helps to ease the congestion at the polls," Yocom said. "We're excited about having a station on campus because it will help us recruit new poll workers that aren't intimidated by the new touch-screen technology."

The 2008 general election early voting period is Oct. 21 to Oct. 31. For more information on voting locations and poll worker employment opportunities in Salt Lake City, visit www.clerk.slco.org.r.shelton@chronicle.utah.edu
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