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In Mercurial Election Year, A Mix Of Emotions For Utah's Millennial Voters

Julia Ritchey
Students socialize in between classes at Brigham Young University in Provo. Some students say they know the election is important, but aren't yet comfortable saying who they'll be voting for in this year's presidential race.

Only 34 percent of Utah’s millennial population voted in the last presidential election. While many groups want to increase turnout with voters under 29, reaction among those voters is mixed.

During fall break at the University of Utah only a few students are milling about the campus store. That includes graduate student Cody Fitzgerald, who’s browsing office supplies.

“I will vote this year,” says Fitzgerald.

And how is he feeling about it?

“Oh, well, I’m definitely going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I think it’s by default everyone on campus is, I don’t know any Donald Trump voters.”

This will be the second time he’s voting in a presidential election.  

“I’ve met a lot of people who aren’t the most excited about voting for Clinton, but at the end of the day I think they will,” he says.

Judi Hilman is executive director of the nonprofit Voterise, which is trying to register millennials, Latinos and other underrepresented groups in Utah.

“Probably the number one reason that we hear is, ‘Oh, what’s the point?” she says. “Like that sense of futility — I will note that that sense of futility can be a problem on both sides of the aisle, in so far as millennials sort themselves into sides of the aisle.”  

Hilman says the vast majority of millennials they register are unaffiliated, and do not identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans. But with the election fast approaching, Voterise volunteers are seeing a lot more interest in the election.  

At Brigham Young University recently, students were less forthcoming with their presidential preferences.

“Umm, it’s interesting; I don’t know,” says Parker Greenwell, a junior physics major. He says he’s still mostly undecided.

“A lot of people have strong opinions, and I don’t like to listen to people’s strong opinions, and I think it’s a year where I definitely have to research stuff myself.”

Voterise hopes to register 10,000 new Utah voters by the November 1st deadline.


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