For busy college students without a car, voting in primaries and general elections can be a little inconvenient. However, Connor Yakatis, ASUU Director of Government Relations, said he is hoping to make the process easier for students.
Yakatis, a senior in political science and campaign management, worked with a group of students to make voting more accessible on campus during the upcoming general election.
Collaborating with the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office, Yakatis secured the Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium as a registered voting center. Because the site is categorized as a center, any students registered to vote in Salt Lake County can cast their ballot there.
The general election will be held on November 8.
Yakatis pointed to high turnout at the Utah caucus in March as an example of voter enthusiasm and said he thinks, “right now there’s a great opportunity to get students voting.”
Yakatis said he originally hoped to set up the center last summer to use during local elections in the fall, but couldn’t due to a lack of time.
Yakatis originally approached the Union as the voting center site, but due to the building’s busy event schedule, it moved to the library.
Ian Godfrey, director of library facilities, said the area is a prime location because of the large amount of foot traffic.
“We see 1.8 million visitors a year come through the library,” Godfrey said. “We want it to be a safe space for students to engage in many different activities.”
The Salt Lake County Clerk’s office required the on-campus site to be ADA accessible, with space for the voting machines, volunteer tables and large numbers of people.
Yakatis said he spoke with President Pershing about the project and received feedback that Pershing was on board with the project. Yakatis also said he expects incoming ASUU president Jack Bender to become involved with publicizing the center, as Yakatis will be graduating this semester.
Godfrey said if the initiative is successful this year, he would consider having the library host it again.
“I’m really excited we could get this done,” Yakatis said. “I think it’s going to be a big benefit to students.”