Provo Student Project encourages students to engage, not just vote, in elections

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The Provo Student Project is encouraging young United States citizens to get involved in the voting process. (Photo courtesy The Provo Student Project)

The Provo Student Project is encouraging young United States citizens to get involved in the voting process. (Photo courtesy The Provo Student Project)

One day Collyn Mosquito was sitting in a government class at BYU and an idea sparked — he could do something to get more students politically engaged. From that idea, he started The Provo Student Project.

“I wanted to create this project because I felt that more of my peers need to be engaged,” he said. “The city is looking for young adults to be engaged, so they have more voices on issues. We’re gearing up to help people get engaged. We’re excited to see where this project goes.”

Mosquito, who’s a BYU junior from Anchorage, Alaska, said he’s been interested in politics most of his life. He loves being engaged in political issues, and wants to help other people be involved as well.

“I wanted to create this project because I felt that more of my peers need to be engaged. The city is looking for young adults to be engaged, so they have more voices on issues.” —Collyn Mosquito, founder of The Provo Student Project

The non-partisan project’s goals are to educate young adults about political involvement, and engage and support them in that involvement, he said. The group’s opening event was Sept. 15. On Oct. 15, the group canvassed Provo’s Joaquin neighborhood to tell students how to vote and help them get engaged in politics.

Provo students wrote reasons why they will vote in the 2016 election on poster boards. (Photo courtesy The Provo Student Project)

Provo students wrote reasons why they will vote in the 2016 election on poster boards. (Photo courtesy The Provo Student Project)

Early voting started this week in Utah County. Voters interested in casting early ballots or who want to know where to go on Election Day can look up their polling locations at vote.utah.gov. The last day to register to vote in Utah County is Nov. 1.

“We’re encouraging them not to stay at home on Nov. 8, but to get out and to cast their ballot to make their voice heard,” Mosquito said.

Voting and being involved in local politics can be a little confusing for students, who may be temporarily living in Provo and registered to vote elsewhere. Project volunteers have helped these student understand how they can request absentee ballots so they can still cast their votes.

Though the group’s working toward voter turnout now, the project won’t be done once Election Day has passed.

“We’re hoping to build on some of the momentum after Nov. 8,” he said. “We’re going to do a pivot toward local politics and help students be locally engaged within the city.”

Mosquito said it’s difficult to get students involved in Provo politics. He’s hoping that he can get students and Provo residents to interact with each other and city leaders more on a casual level, and then help them engage on more serious issues. “There are problems with landlords or there are issues with over-housing in some parts of Provo, and the infamous parking issue.”

Next semester, Mosquito will be working on a project assessing the relationship between BYU and Provo, researching what information students want from the city and which issues interest them. “I’ll help the city put together a plan to engage students,” he said.

The next event for The Provo Student Project is at 10 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers will meet at Joaquin Park, 400 East and 400 North, and then go out to canvass the neighborhood. For more information, go to The Provo Student Project or follow the project on Facebook.

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

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