Commercials target voter participation

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    By Meagan Hansen

    Residents, businesses and organizations have joined together with the Utah Lieutenant Governor to launch the largest voter outreach television campaign in Utah history.

    “Since the disappointing 12 percent turnout for the June primary election, I have been searching for ways to improve voter participation,” said Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker at a press conference Wednesday.

    Recent state budget cuts have taken led to decreased funds for elections.

    “Because of budget cuts [Walkers] hands are tied,” said Katie Foutz, spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Walker. “Money is being allocated to other election needs.”

    In July, Lt. Gov. Walker, who announced the program Wednesday morning, was approached by AT&T Broadband of Utah, who offered to match dollar-for-dollar in cable television advertising, any contributions the state election office could raise for the voter outreach cause.

    “We kept reading about budget cuts and realized the need for an outreach program,” said Barb Shelley, spokesperson for AT&T Broadband of Utah.

    The Lt. Gov. office welcomed the offer from AT&T and soon began contacting other community members to get involved.

    “We needed the support of community leaders willing to pitch in and encourage voters to participate,” Walker said.

    Seven other businesses and organizations, including the state Republican and Democratic parties are now participating in the campaign.

    “It has been an impressive effort,” said Walker. “How often during an election are you going to see the chairs of the democratic and republican parties working together on a comapaign?”

    “I think it is always good when you have high voter turn out and this campaign will certainly help,” said Scott Simpson, executive director for the Utah Republican Party.

    “We were very aware that there aren”t very many compelling reasons to vote in this election because it is not a presidential race and there aren”t many hot issues on the ballot,” Shelley said. “But voting is important and it matters who you put in office.”

    The campaign will include two, 30-second commercials that feature each of the contributors encouraging Utahns to vote.

    “[The contributors] are setting an example,” said Foutz. “The campaign reaches everyone and people will be able to relate to those in the commercials.”

    AT&T and other contributors say they are participating because they can help the voting cause.

    “We are doing this because we get to feel good, not to advertise ourselves,” said Shelley.

    All contributors will have the name of their organization appear under their image on the commercials.

    The commercials will air more that 1000 times before the pole close on Nov.5. AT&T will run a majority of the airings during primetime on their most highly rated television networks, like ESPN and CNBC.

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