Utah Community CU Dishes out Pizza, Cookies, Water and Heaters to the Weary in Day-Long Voter Lines
PROVO, Utah - As the nation moves forward with its re-elected president, Utah Community Credit Union may never forget the part it played in assisting the thousands of residents who cast their vote on Nov. 2. The $413 million credit union was days away from completing a new facility in...
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PROVO, Utah – As the nation moves forward with its re-elected president, Utah Community Credit Union may never forget the part it played in assisting the thousands of residents who cast their vote on Nov. 2. The $413 million credit union was days away from completing a new facility in the Saratoga Springs area here when it got word that a nearby precint was scrambling to find a back-up location for the nearly 3,000 voters expected to come through on Election Day. When asked by the Utah County Auditor’s office, Jeff Sermon, president/CEO of Utah Community CU (UCCU), said he jumped at the chance to offer the new facility to voters. “These great citizens had every justifiable reason to look at the line, think about children, dinner and school the next day and then just decide to leave and not vote,” Sermon said. “But they were determined to exercise their right to vote. They didn’t leave.” With literally a day’s notice – a day before the election – the credit union rushed to make “vote here” signs, obtain an occupancy permit from the city and bring in polling equipment, Sermon said. Sure enough, the line of voters had already started to form on Election Day in the wee hours of the morning. As the day wore on, the line snaked out and around the building, through the drive-throughs and beyond, Sermon said. By 5:00 p.m. that evening, hundreds of people were still in line, many hungry, most chilled from the cold, frigid weather that rolled in. “Normally, this precinct would see between 600 and 700 people, but there had to be more than 2,000 people,” Sermon said. That’s not counting the provisional and absentee votes which pushed the number of people voting here well over the 3,000 mark, he added. To keep their spirits up, Sermon and UCCU staff brought in Little Caesar’s Pizza, more than 60 dozen cookies and bottled water to the line dwellers. Propane heaters were also wheeled in to warm voters standing outside of the building. For the parents in line with young children, the wait probably seemed longer than it actually was. But reinforcements were on their way. “Out of nowhere a group of young women arrived and volunteered to take all the children into a room and provide coloring books, videos, activities, and games,” Sermon said. “There were around 20 children in the `nursery’ at any given time.” At about 8:00 p.m, with the lines at a standstill in the cold parking lot, a woman who voted earlier in the day came back with her husband to pass out 10 gallons of hot chocolate. “I was simply amazed at the patience, kindness, optimistic attitude, and sense of neighborhood that I experienced in Saratoga Springs on that busy election day and night,” Sermon wrote in a letter to the local paper. “The people took an experience that could have been awful and made the best of it.” In the end, the last person in the entire state of Utah reportedly voted at the UCCU branch, Sermon said. The time? 11:12 pm. “We couldn’t make the lines shorter but we were trying to do our little part,” Sermon said. UCCU expanded to a community charter in 2001. With Saratoga Springs being a fast-growing area, the credit union made the decision to open a branch here becoming the first financial institution to do so, Sermon said. The Utah County Auditor’s office asked the credit union if it could use the new facility as a precinct so this wasn’t part of some grand marketing scheme to attract new members. “But in our own way, we became a part of this new community,” Sermon said. “We made them a promise that when they visit us during business hours, the lines will not be as long.” -
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