U Students Turn Out at the Polls for Midterms, Stress the Importance of Voting


Sarah Karr

Voting poll workers help students fill out and turn in their election ballots in Marriott Library at University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Karr | The Daily Utah Chronicle).


In order to give students the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, polling booths were offered at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah on Election Day on Nov. 8. This year’s midterm elections will decide control of Congress and 36 state governorships. 

The Chronicle spoke with students who voted at the library about why they were voting and why they think it was important to cast a ballot.

Valarie Williams, a U graduate student getting her master’s in city planning, said it’s really important for people to get their voice out there.

“We are in the crux of what could drastically change democracy for the rest of my lifetime,” Williams said.

There has been an increase in college voters in recent elections, with college student voter turnout doubling from 19% in 2014 to 40% in 2018.

Dr. Matthew Burbank, a political science professor at the U, said students should vote in every election and they should place emphasis on doing so sooner than later.

“It’s important for young people, in general, to vote early, and do so in a habitual fashion that is not just the presidential election year, but also a midterm election year, because it’s an important habit to get into.” 

Avery Meppelink, a senior at the U studying business, said he thinks his fellow college peers should vote, and having the polls accessible to students makes it much easier.

“I mean it’s definitely nice to have it on campus,” Meppelink said. “And I think it’s nice to vote, important to vote. If you don’t, I mean, you’re sleeping on your say in how we run our country.”

According to CNBC, a poll showed that half of voters said that “the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade back on June 24 is motivating them to get out and vote on Nov. 8.”

In addition to Roe v. Wade, which 15% of people said was the most important issue, there are many other top-priority issues that voters feel need to be addressed in this midterm election, including inflation and economic problems, which 35% of people polled agree is the most important issue. 

Megan Petitt, a U alum who graduated in design, said, “​​It’s important to take civic action. It’s so easy on campus.”

Burbank stressed the importance of young people thinking about the future as well as the present when making their decisions on voting day.

“I think that younger people — it’s very wise of them to kind of look to the future, and for older people, they may think, ‘Oh, well, we’re not gonna be here much longer,’” he said.

While voting is always important, Burbank said, the amount of people who are politically active often decreases when the elections are not presidential.

“In midterm elections, we sort of see this decline back to the people who really are more attentive to politics,” Burbank said.

Ian Chang, a sophomore studying mathematics at the U, said that seeing news about the election and hearing about it from peers is what encouraged him to vote at the library.

“I voted mainly because a bunch of my friends voted and I’ve been seeing a bunch of stuff online, just like every vote counts,” Chang said.

Mina Done, a senior majoring in biochemistry, said it’s important for the whole community to come together and practice their right to vote.

“Every voice really does matter,” Done said. “I feel like voting is really dominated by older populations so whatever I can do to [represent] the voices that aren’t as represented, I want to be a part of that.”


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