The Chronicle’s View: If you tell them, they will vote

Sophia Lingos saw a need and mobilized her troops to fill it.

Kudos to Lingos, director of the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s Communications Board, and her “street force,” who, together, worked tirelessly to publicize ASUU elections.

Lingos knew of poor voter turnout in past ASUU elections and set a goal to increase the number of voters by 5 percent, which amounts to approximately 1,400 students. This is a fairly significant goal, especially taking into consideration the U’s tradition of student apathy when it comes to ASUU.

The efforts of the Communications Board are hard to miss. You’ve seen the T-shirts, the banners and balloons. Marriott Library even approved placing stickers on its computers to remind students to vote online.

It is refreshing to see someone who realizes there is a problem, but does not simply give in to the all-to-common excuses, such as, “This is a commuter campus-nobody cares about what goes on.” It’s easy to assume that, because students have not cared in the past, they will not care now or in the future.

But a new, innovative approach to publicizing student elections has proven effective. In the ASUU primary elections held this week, 5983 students cast their votes. The communications board did, indeed, meet its goal-and then some. Last year, 13 percent of the student body voted in the elections-a new voting record. The tally at the end of the primary elections alone amounts to more than 20 percent of registered students.

But the elections aren’t over yet. Final elections take place next week. Students now have the responsibility to study the issues and determine which candidates most closely represent their needs and wants. A $1 million budget is significant-students ought to know how and where their money is spent, and voting in the ASUU final elections the first step in the process.

An increased voter turnout also empowers student leaders. To know that more of the student body is aware of your platform and voices their support breeds greater confidence, but also a greater responsibility to represent the needs of the U constituency.

Whatever happens at the end of the ASUU elections, Lingos and the rest of her board should know that they have set a new standard in reaching out to U students and encouraging them to choose their elected representatives.

And the winners should move ahead, ready to implement their platform, eager to represent both those who supported them during the elections and the rest of the student body who, unfortunately, don’t seem to care.