Easier voting laws in Utah aim to improve low voter turnout

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – In the 2016 general election 82 percent of registered Utah voters cast a ballot, but only 57 percent of eligible voters took part in the process.

Utah has made it easier to vote by having mail-in ballots and same-day registration. Experts are trying to get over the hurdle of voter apathy.

Jason Perry is the Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and says low voter turnout can be a major problem for democracy.

“It’s the most dangerous thing for our republic if people think they don’t want to get involved, or that their vote doesn’t matter,” said Perry.

People give many reasons for not voting including time constraint, not being up on the issues, or just not caring.

In a state like Utah where one party has a large advantage, it can make it harder to get both sides out. With the minority thinking their vote doesn’t make a difference, and those in the majority thinking the race is issue or candidate is a lock.

“In Utah, we need to do a better job of showing up,” said Perry. “You can’t just count on your neighbor to be there to represent your values or interests, you’ve got to be there.”

Historically, one of the largest groups not to vote in elections are young people ages 18-25. When we went to the University of Utah campus we found many who said while they were registered, many of their friends weren’t.

While many told us they plan to vote, others said they felt like it didn’t make a difference.

Justin Lee is the Director of Utah Elections and said that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You’re getting into 5, 10, 15 votes making the difference between who is going to serve in the legislature and who’s not,” said Lee. “So every vote really does matter.”

This year all counties will have same day voter registration available. With the majority of counties taking part in mail-in elections, it should help increase turnout.

In the primary, 90 percent of ballots cast were done by mail. There are also vote center people can show up to for early voting and on Election Day.

“So there’s really no reason to not register to vote,” said Lee.

Turnout could be higher this year for several reasons. There is a lot of passion over national issues, but ballot initiatives could bring out a lot of new voters. Experts worry some will still stay home.

“If there’s not something on the menu you care about this time it’s going to be hard to find something you do care about,” said Perry.

To register to vote or find more information go to the Lieutenant Governor’s website.

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...