Strength in numbers

By By Jade Gray

By Jade Gray

Most students on campus have been asked, “Are you registered?” at least a few times over the past few weeks as volunteers have been registering students to vote for the Nov. 7 elections.

Next week marks the 2006 midterm elections, and the turnout could reflect the trend of young voter increases Utah has experienced in recent years.

According to a study conducted by, Utah’s young population wasn’t shy during the 2004 presidential elections. Fifty-nine percent of young people, aged 18 to 29, turned out to vote that year, which placed Utah ninth in the nation for highest youth-voter turnout.

One factor contributing to these numbers could be the fact that Utah has a younger population than the rest of the nation, as the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the median age of Utahns this year is 27.1. The national median age is 35.3 years.

The last midterm elections took place in 2002, when 22 percent of young Utahns hit the booths, a slight increase from the 1998 midterm election turnout.

Whether the upward trend will continue remains to be seen.

Alisa Smith, a senior gender studies major, said that a person’s party affiliation can have an effect on whether he or she votes.

“We’re in a Republican state, and a lot of students here at the U are Democrats and don’t vote because they feel their voices won’t be heard,” she said.

Smith also said that the reason people choose to vote nationally more than locally is because they are uneducated.

“We’re a generation taught only to care when something is really important,” she said. “People don’t realize that you can vote and change your situation if you vote in smaller elections versus just voting in the presidential election.”

Breanne Miller, political science major and member of the U College Democrats, agreed that education is most important in determining voter turnout.

“It’s slightly harder to get educated on local issues when voting as opposed to the national issues,” she said. “In the 2004 presidential elections, it seemed everyone knew what Bush and Kerry were about; it’s different with local elections.”

For more information on the ballot this year and voting locations, visit