University of Utah students organize mass walkout to vote

Nov 6, 2018, 12:06 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 11:38 am
Walkout to Vote...
Students at the University of Utah pose before beginning their march toward toward the polling stations. (Photo courtesy of Jena Carr)
(Photo courtesy of Jena Carr)

University of Utah students gathered together at the John R. Park Building today at 10:00 AM to stage a mass walkout. This walkout, though, wasn’t a protest; it was a call to vote, organized by Walkout to Vote Utah, that pulled students out of their campus and into the poll booths.

U of U is just one of the thousands of schools across the nation that are participating in the mass walkout meant to drive out what organizers hope will be a record high number of young voters for this midterm election.

Walkout to Vote Utah marches to the polls

If not now, then when?

Walkout to Vote Utah supporters hold up a banner asking young voters, “If not now, then when?” on Nov. 1, 2018. (Walkout to Vote Utah)

The crowd that gathered around the Park Building was big enough that Jena Carr, the lead organizer of Walkout to Vote Utah, couldn’t count them all. All she could say was that it was a “good handful” of students, clumped together in the cold in what would soon become a caravan bound for polls.

Every person present was risking their academic standing just by being there. The university hadn’t promised any amnesty for students cutting class to participate in the process of democracy. Without the mercy of a kind professor willing to look the other way, every person there could expect their grades to be docked.

But to the people who came out, this event was about making a statement. Sure, they could have voted between classes or to sent in their mail-in ballots earlier on, but they wanted to make the march of young people heading to the polls a loud, unignorable show.

“We will ensure young people show up to the polls in record numbers,” the group’s Facebook page promised, “and send a bold message to politicians and the country that young people are unified in our demand for change.”

That message needed to be as bold as possible, and so the walkout wasn’t limited to those old enough to vote. Even students too young to cast a vote of their own were encouraged to come out and cheer their classmates on, just to send the message that the young people of our nation need say in its future.

Young people are voting in record numbers

Walkout to Vote Utah pamphlets

Pamphlets handed out by Walkout to Vote Utah encouraging University of Utah students to leave their classes to vote. Nov. 2, 2018. (Walkout To Vote Utah)

The group’s organizer, Jena Carr, spoke with KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanvoic about why she believes this movement is so important for young people in America.

“We really can make a difference,” Carr said, “especially this younger generation of kids.”

For Carr, it doesn’t matter how young people are casting their votes. She calls the movement “non-partisan”, saying that she just wants to get out the message that the youth need to make sure that they get their say in the future of their country.

“It’s going to affect you because you live in the United States,” Carr told Dave & Dujanovic. “You’re living in a place where there’s a democracy, and you have to right to vote. … You can affect the way that the vote goes.”

Carr’s message is one echoed Walkout to Vote’s nationwide campaign. The group has sent out videos calling for walkouts at every school in every state, arguing that the voice of the young is the most important and most underrepresented voice in the democratic system.

“Kids may only be 25% of the nation, but they are 100% of the future,” one of their videos says. “We’re the only age group where the result of this election are going to affect us in 60 years.”

It’s a message the youth seem to be giving their full attention. Young voters are expected to vote in record numbers this midterm, showing that they seem to be a generation more motivated to engage in politics than any we’ve seen in a long time.

As the young voters of the University of Utah gathered together, Carr took a short moment’s break to speak to KSL Newsradio and help spread her message about the importance of the youth vote.

Then she and the crowd she’d gathered marched off together, determined to make sure that their voices, along with a record-setting number of voices of young people around the nation, were heard.

More to the story

If you missed it live, you can still hear Dave & Dujanovic’s full conversation with Jena Carr on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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University of Utah students organize mass walkout to vote