"Miscommunication" Keeps 300 Students from Voting

"Miscommunication" Keeps 300 Students from Voting

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- About 300 students who registered through Weber State University's "Get Out the Vote" campaign were turned away from the voting booth Nov. 4 because the documentation was turned in late to county officials.

"It wasn't a lack of communication on our part, more of a miscommunication," said student Trent Hooper, who led the student-registration project.

Students signed up to vote during homecoming activities Oct. 18-25. But state law says registrations collected by people other than the actual voter have to be turned in 20 days before the election, in this case Oct. 15.

"You can't just plunk down a bunch of forms. When you do voter-registration drives, it's your responsibility to get the forms back on time," said Scott Hogensen, Weber County elections administrator.

Hooper said he indicated to election officials that they would be collecting student voter registrations during Homecoming Week. But election officials didn't catch the reference to the collection dates, he said.

"We ran it by them a number of times," Hooper said. "They didn't realize homecoming was after the deadline."

"We feel we made every effort and followed the state's instructions," Hooper said.

State Voter Outreach Coordinator Mica McKinney said state election officials are distressed about the situation but also say it's not entirely the state office's fault.

"I'm not really sure where the miscommunication took place. We repeated the deadlines to them," McKinney said. "We feel terrible about the situation."

About 350 students who registered during an early October drive were able to vote since the registrations were turned in on time.

Hooper said the student leaders have learned from the experience and vow next year's student voter-registration drive will be free of glitches.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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