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New Utah Organization Aims To Fire Up Millennial Voters

Andrea Smardon
Voterise digital strategist and field director Sarah Scott at Impact Hub in Salt Lake City. (July 14, 2016)

A new organization launched in Utah Thursday aimed at getting more millennials to the voting booth.

It’s called Voterise, and it’s a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Utah dedicated to bringing millennials and other new voices into the electorate. Music industry advertising executive Dick Gary is cofounder and cochairman.

“I think in Utah and the rest of the country, what we’re really trying to do is give a voice to everyone in the country, and right now the voice that isn’t being heard is the 18 to 29 year old voice,” Gary says.  

24-year-old Benjamin Sheridan is a strategic advisor for the organization. He says this election season has generated a lot of energy, and they’re working to channel that into political action, and then keep it going.

“We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Sheridan says. In 2014, Utah ranked near the bottom of voter turnout. Only 8 percent of millennials showed up at the ballot box. Sheridan says too many young people report that they don’t care about politics, they distrust government, or they don’t believe they can make a difference. “That’s part of our challenge is to show the collective power of a potential largest voting bloc in the country, 20 million young people between 18 and 29.”

Clark Bullen of Murray describes himself as a politically engaged member of the millennial generation. He’s also a Republican. He supports the efforts of Voterise, even if it brings more Democrats to the polls. He says more political involvement benefits everyone.

“We don’t want certain people to win only because certain people turn out to vote,” Bullen says. “We want to represent the whole population of Utah, not just our political party.”

Voterise is offering quick online voter registration provided by Rock the Vote. They’re holding live events at Twilight concerts and other places where target populations gather. And using social media to spread their message. Right now the organization is calling for video entries of stories called #MyFirstTime… that’s voting, of course.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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