The Daily Iowan

Low numbers in primary special election brings opportunity to push for change

With 9 percent Iowa City residents voting in the city council primary special election, efforts to increase civic engagement at the UI are being increased for the next election.

City+Council+candidate+Bruce+Teague+stands+by+his+election+sign+at+Billy%27s+High+Hat+Diner+on+Tuesday%2C+September+4%2C+2018.+Teague+received+the+second+highest+number+of+votes+overall.
City Council candidate Bruce Teague stands by his election sign at Billy's High Hat Diner on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Teague received the second highest number of votes overall.

City Council candidate Bruce Teague stands by his election sign at Billy's High Hat Diner on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Teague received the second highest number of votes overall.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

City Council candidate Bruce Teague stands by his election sign at Billy's High Hat Diner on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Teague received the second highest number of votes overall.

Alexandra Skores, News Reporter

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When five Iowa City City Council candidates ran for the vacant seat left by former Councilor Kingsley Botchway, more than 4,000 residents cast votes.

Anne Freerks and Bruce Teague snared the top two spots, and they will face off in the Oct. 2 special election.

After reviewing the numbers, University of Iowa Student Government and other organizations on campus would like to increase voter turnout among university students in the election.

“We did a lot voter registration at On Iowa, registering more than 1,500 students,” said Connor Wooff, the UISG deputy director of governmental relations. “We also ‘tabled’ all over campus. From there, our efforts are going to expand for Oct. 2’s special election and midterms, because UISG is implementing a Voter Registration Week.”

Wooff plans to continue the voter registration with a different spot on campus every day devoted to registering UI students to vote.

UISG will also bring candidates to campus in order to ensure students get the chance to interact with them and make an informed decision on whom to vote for.

“We will hold a forum during Voter Registration Week and also publish biographies on each candidate,” he said. “We want to stress why local elections are important, because they deal with a lot of pertinent issues with the university, like safety downtown. We want to ensure that you know who you check on that ballot and are given the chance to meet them and hear what they have to say.”

Voter Registration Week will begin Sept. 17 on Constitution Day with a kickoff on the Pentacrest. There will be numerous events during the week to gauge interest in voting in both the City Council special election and the midterms.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said there was no rise or change in how many UI students voted in the special primary.

“The importance of voting needs to be stressed to UI students, specifically toward these smaller, local elections,” he said. “Most students don’t believe City Council or School Board elections matter to them because they don’t have kids, but they do. They don’t realize that these are the people making decisions on things like property taxes, which affects the cost of rent.”

Rarely do students make it to the polls for smaller elections, and it will take a lot of effort from various voter drives to get students out to vote, Weipert stressed.

UI senior Jamie Porter, who voted in the special primary, said he believes it is imperative students do the same in the upcoming election.

“I participated in the recent special election primary because I think being an active citizen and taking part in local elections is super important,” he said. “I would want to encourage everyone to get informed about the two candidates still vying for the council seat and be sure to vote in the special election on Oct. 2.”

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