By TONIA ANDRUS
Thirty-five percent voter turnout for student body elections is the goal of this year’s BYUSA election committee.
Normally, 15 to 20 percent of BYU students vote in student body elections, said elections committee member Jacob Farrar, 24, a junior from Lynnwood, Wash., majoring in marketing communications.
Farrar said that many students don’t vote because they don’t feel a need to vote, it’s not that they are lazy. Farrar said that students don’t realize the importance of voting for their officers and the impact BYUSA officers have on their experience at BYU.
Elections Committee Chairman, Mike Nielsen, 24, a senior from Visalia, Calif., majoring in Spanish teaching, said that some demographic groups vote more than others. Females tend to vote more than males, said Nielsen, “Girls are more willing to get involved in things beside their own lives.” Traditionally freshmen vote more than seniors, and single students more than married students.
Candidates often focus on voting blocks or voter groups with similar demographics. Jaime Kimball, 20, a sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., majoring in marketing communications, said that last year as a campaign manager for BYUSA presidential candidates, they tried to reach freshmen.
Freshmen are targeted because they are usually more active in voting and because they are centrally located (in the residence halls), Kimball said.
Nielsen said that another reason students don’t vote is because of the high turnover. Students who leave on missions, who just returned from missions, and those graduating or getting married tend to vote less, Nielson said.
To reach the 35 percent voter turnout goal, the election committee has extended the campaigning time so that candidates have more time to reach students. The committee will promote elections with booths, flyers and newspaper ads, Nielson said. Another change is that this year’s elections will be done by computer. Students will be able to select candidates and place their votes through BYU’s Route Y homepage.