Voting in Utah County is easier than ever, and as the Daily Herald Editorial Board, we hope that translates to continued increases in voter turnout.
Ballots are hitting mailboxes around Utah County, signaling another Election Day just around the corner.
This may seem like a less eventful election cycle for many, without the pomp and grandeur of a presidential or midterm election. There aren’t even any mayoral races this year.
Most voters across Utah County will see their ballot detailing information about city council candidates, and that’s really about it. A couple of cities have recreation and park tax proposals, Provo has the school bond — which we’ve already opined on — but beyond that, the ballots can appear to be unexciting.
But anyone who has read our previous editorials or knows how we operate as a local, community-driven newspaper, knows that we value local elections, and are excited about this election season.
Local leaders and elected officials have always, and will always, have more direct impact on the lives of local residents than what happens in the committee and congressional meetings in Washington. Housing projects, land developments and environmental studies are conducted at the local level. The shape and features of your neighborhood were likely, at one point, voted on by a city council after consideration in city planning meetings and committees. Your mayor and city council are the ones who voted for that property tax increase, not President Trump. If you want local change affected, you have to participate in local elections.
This year’s primary voter turnout was at about 24.08%. This is just for the primary and many cities went without primaries. American Fork, Lindon and Salem are among the several cities that didn’t have enough candidates for a primary to be held. Payson and Vineyard are piloting ranked choice voting, which negates a primary and may actually save the county money. We would hope that voter turnout is significantly higher for the general election.
Last year’s midterm election saw 67% voter turnout, which blew away previous midterm voter participation figures. A lot of that was because it was a very pivotal election year, with many congressional seats, senate races and propositions dotting the ballot. In fact, last year’s ballot was about four pages and 18 inches long, one of the longest ballots in the state’s history.
We would hope that despite fewer big-ticket races, those who vote still outnumber those who don’t.
Utah has historically been at the bottom of the list when it comes to voter participation. Prior to the 2018 midterm, Utah was ranked 45th in the nation for voter participation by the U.S. Census Bureau. Only 37% of voters filled out their ballots in 2014. To see participation skyrocket in the 2018 midterm is really encouraging for future turnout percentages.
Voting in Utah County really can’t be made easier, as almost all voters receive mail-in ballots. You don’t even need to pay for a stamp to send your ballot back to be counted; all you have to do is fill it out, hopefully in an educated manner, and drop it in your outgoing mailbox. If you have not registered to vote in Utah County but you live within the county borders, please take the time to register. You can even register to vote on Election Day, if your propensity to procrastination is that intense.
If you prefer voting in person and really just want one of those “I Voted” stickers — which in all fairness, we don’t blame you — you can take your mail-in ballot to a polling place on Election Day and vote in person. Military personnel stationed overseas and disabled individuals in Utah County will be among the first piloting a mobile voting app, which could further improve voting efficiency in later election cycles.
If you don’t feel that you’re an informed voter, you can visit http://heraldextra.com/vote to view our candidate guide, which provides general information on each candidate running for public office in Utah County. Our online team worked tirelessly on that and we hope you find it beneficial to your vote.
With the bevy of voting options and information out there, there are few excuses for not voting this year. You aren’t deciding the fate of the country, but you are voting on the fate of your city, which is no less significant to you, your neighbors and your community.