Utahns lead the nation in volunteerism, which would suggest that we are a civic-minded group. Why then do we not vote? Could it be the lack of a strong two-party system? The Republicans don’t vote because they are confident of victory and the Democrats don’t vote because they are overwhelmed? If that were the case, other states with similar one-party dominance would have voter apathy.
The recent introduction of a bill to allow online voter registration could increase voter turn-out. However Utahns aren’t the biggest slackers when it comes to getting registered. It’s the follow-through – the voting — where we actually opt out. We sign up in fair enough numbers, we just don’t bother to show up for the big dance.
It is important for citizens in a democracy to make their voices heard, but when I hear potential voters readily admit that they don’t know who is running, don’t know what the ballot initiatives are about, and haven’t a clue about the issues, these might not be the best citizens to do the talking. Rather than wanting more voters, perhaps Utah should focus on getting more informed voters.
One-party dominance doesn’t inspire much voter participation either. However, instead of whining about it, Democrats should push for an end of the “straight-ticket” option.
Few states use it anymore, and at least this ensures that voters will actually look at each race instead of punching the computer screen once.
Realistically, people don’t vote for two simple reasons – apathy and pessimism. If you think your vote doesn’t matter, you stay home. If you think that nothing can ever get better or change, you stay home. And ultimately you stew in your own impotency.
The writer, Louis L’Amour said that “to make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
Based on our numbers, there should be a lot of silence in Utah for the next four years.
Raised in Davis County, Brandvold is employed in the financial industry — and proud to be a Utah Democrat.