Becky and Brent Fry, Orem, will cast their ballots on Nov. 6 the same way they always do: by staying home and not voting.

In fact, most Utah County residents will vote the same way."We have never registered - never, ever," Becky Fry, 30, said. "They don't make it easy for you. We'd have to go register, then follow up on everybody and know who to vote for.

"It is very uninteresting to me," she said. "I know how important it is, but we've just never felt like following up on it. It's just easier not to vote."

There are approximately 265,790 residents in Utah County. Almost half - 103,548 - are registered voters. But of that number, few actually participate in the election process.

Only 22 percent - 23,168 - of Utah County residents who are registered voters participated in the 1990 primary election. Usually the number of voters approximately doubles in the general election.

Countries such as France, England and Germany have higher voting rates than the United States, according to David B. Magleby, political science professor at Brigham Young University.

This year, residents who choose to stay home election night will let those who do vote decide an issue directly affecting all Utahns' pocketbooks: whether or not the state continues to charge a sales tax on food.

"Voting is still a real opportunity to determine the direction that local, state and national government will take," Magleby said. "If you don't think it makes a difference, compare Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. It is clear that the 1980 election changed the direction this country was going."Magleby said American non-voting behavior is in part explained by the frequency with which elections take place in the United States; some elections are regarded as more important than others.

"There are lots of elections and voters tend not to turn on to all those elections equally," Magleby said.

Presidential and general elections are considered the most important kind of elections.

"As a rule they have higher turnouts than primary elections," Magleby said.

In Utah, that rule of thumb is unfortunate because the "Republican primary election is often tantamount to election."

In addition to the frequency with which elections occur in the United States, there are structural impediments to voting, Magleby said. Voter registration requirements inhibit voting, in particular discouraging individuals who are mobile, young and less educated from voting.

Utah is among the most liberal states when it comes to voter registration requirements because residents can register up to one week before an election, Magleby said. Still, registration requirements discourage people from voting.

"It is another step people have to go through to vote," he said.

Registration requirements keep Michelle Hoover, 22, Provo, out of the electoral process.

"I care about (voting) but I haven't taken the time to register," she said. She has no idea where she is supposed to go to register.

Jennifer Harding, 19, Orem, also hasn't "felt like taking the time to decide who I wanted to vote for or to register."

Researchers say voting behavior can be predicted by education and age, but "not income, not by occupation and not by race," Magleby said.

The more education a person has, the more apt he or she is to vote. Education helps people deal with the complexities of issues and instills a sense of civic responsibility, Magleby said.

The voting rate tends to increase up through middle age, Magleby said, and then begins to drop off among people 70 or older, especially among women. Women in that age category were among the first women who had the right to vote and tended to vote with their husbands.

Some of these voters become less committed to participating in the election process after their husbands die, Magleby said.