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Utah millennials show passion on social issues not politics

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Posted at 11:03 PM, Jul 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 10:01:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Foundation recently released a study comparing Utah millennials with millennials in the rest of the nation. They found the younger generation is not as religious as older generations, they tend not to pick political parties, and they support more social issues, including gay rights.

Researchers surveyed 1,300 young people in the state.

“Animal rights, food rights, poverty and homelessness, women’s rights, gay rights,” said Michelle Prudie, a University of Utah student, listing the different kinds of rights she and her friends tend to support.

Millennials make up the largest portion of Utah’s population. While Utah is more politically conservative than the rest of the country, The Utah Foundation discovered that Utah millennials are more concerned about social issues.

“We’re a generation that drives off a lot of emotions,” said Chelsea Sather, a student at the University of Utah. “I think it’s basically our opinion on situations that drives us.”

The latest research from The Utah Foundation reveals people in the younger generation are less interested in politics, and least likely to vote, with only a quarter of millennials turning out to the polls in the last election.

“I think that there’s a little too much focus on political parties,” said U of U student Matt Huntington. “We live in the United States of America, and we should be united.”

“Political issues in general, I don’t think interest the majority of my friends,” said Ben Berger, another millennial.

While the study found young people in Utah tend to be more religious than the rest of the nation, the number of millennials who say they affiliate with a religious organization is also on the decline.

“I think there are a lot of people who wouldn’t describe themselves as religious, but describe themselves as spiritual,” said Utah millennial Ben Berger.

A big concern for state leaders is the low voter turnout among millennials. Young people will make up the largest number of voters in the next election, and Mark Thomas from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office says they’re doing all they can to encourage young people to get out and vote.

“Everything’s so instantaneous for them,” Thomas said. “They may get excited about an issue, they’ll respond on social media, but then it’s onto the next thing. We’re trying to get that to translate into getting them to go to the polls and being able to participate on a long-term level.”

The State Legislature recently passed a bill that will allow teens to register to vote when they are 16 years old. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office says they hope this will increase voter turnout.