Did you know there are elections in Utah this year?
Although we got big turnout for the 2016 presidential elections, Utah has historically low voter participation, especially in municipal elections. Midterm elections aren’t until 2018. But this year we have municipal and special service district elections across the state, starting with primaries coming right up in August and general elections in November. Do you know who is running? Do you know where to vote? Are you registered to vote? Action Utah can help you navigate municipal elections and get you to the voting booth!
Voting is the single best way to have a voice in policymaking
Whether at the municipal, county, state or federal level, having a voice means exercising your right to vote. Voting is not required, it is a privilege of our democracy. Officials at all levels of government are responsible for the policies that impact your everyday life. The best thing you can do is help choose those officials.
CD 3 Special Election Primary
Besides municipal elections, a special election is being held this year to fill former Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s in the House of Representatives. As critical as the general election in November is the primary election in August. Action Utah gives you the skinny in our Voter Guide below.
TODAY, 3:00-5:00p – UDOH public hearing on Medicaid proposals, Utah Department of Health, Cannon Building, 288 N. 1460 West, Salt Lake City. Last chance to speak up about proposed Medicaid limits and work requirements. Call-in details below.
Wed, June 19, 3:30-6:00p – Real Women Run: Campaign Consulting, Campaign Connections at YWCA Center for Families, 310 East 300 South, Salt Lake City. For candidates and engaged community members. One on one consulting around these topics: Campaign Management & Fundraising, Messaging & Media, Field Organizing. Register here.
On August 15th, Utah will hold primary elections across the state for municipal and special service district offices, including numerous city mayors, county and city council members, water, sewer and parks & rec officials, etc. In addition, Utah’s District 3 will hold a special election primary to decide the final Republican and Democratic candidates for the general election on November 7th.
Not many people participate in these off-year elections. Why? Because few people know when the elections are, who is running or how to vote. Don’t be one of those people. Voting is the number one best way for ordinary community members to impact local policymaking. Here’s what you need to know to be a participating voter in the 2017 elections:
1. Register to vote
Deadlines for registering to vote before the upcoming August 15th primary are soon!
- Mail-In Voter Registration Deadline: July 17
- In Person/Online Voter Registration Deadline: August 8
2. Know when to vote
The primary election is on August 15th, with early voting August 1-11 and the last day to mail in ballots on August 8th.
The general election is on November 7th, with early voting October 24-November 3 and the last day to mail in ballots on November 2nd.
3. Know how to vote
Many cities and counties across Utah have opted in for mail-in ballots, which must be returned before the election day. However, voting in person is still an option. Check your county or city clerk or recorder’s office to find out how to vote in your area. For a primer on how mail-in ballots work, check out this video from the Utah Association of Counties.
4. Know who can vote in what primary
Democratic congressional and state primaries are OPEN, meaning the Democratic Party allows party members and unaffiliated voters to participate in their congressional and state primaries. Voting in the Democratic Primary does not alter unaffiliated status.
Republican congressional and state primaries are CLOSED, meaning that only registered Republicans may vote in their congressional and state primaries.
Municipal and special service district election primaries (when necessary to narrow down the candidate field) are open to all registered voters.
5. Know who is running for what position – municipal and special service district elections
Each county clerk and city recorder’s office can inform voters of what positions are up for election and who has filed as a candidate for those positions. Contact your local clerk for more information. For those of you in the following areas, here are some links to help you navigate:
Salt Lake County: Elections (County Clerk) and Filed Candidates
Salt Lake City: Elections and Candidates
West Valley City: Elections/Candidates
Utah County: Elections and List of City Recorders to contact for candidate information
Provo: Elections and Candidates
West Jordan: Elections/Candidates
Davis County: Elections and Filed Candidates
Weber County: County Clerk/Auditor or Elections
Washington County: Election Information (Clerk/Auditor)
Cache County: Elections (Clerk/Auditor) and Candidate Information
Or try the state elections website at utah.vote.gov. This resource allows you to find your local election information based on your home address, including all your elected officials, sample ballots, candidate lists and links to register to vote.
6. Know who is running for Congressional District 3
For those voters in Utah’s CD-3, your primary and general election this year will determine who will complete the remaining time in former Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ congressional seat. Delegates at the Democratic convention this year selected Democratic Candidate Dr. Kathie Allen as their general election candidate for Congress. That means there will be no Democratic primary for the position. Kathie Allen will join libertarian candidate Joe Buchman, independent candidate Jason Christensen and the winner of the Republican primary on the general election ballot.
This year’s special election marks a unique moment for the Republican party, with three candidates entering the primary, two of which got on the primary ballot by collecting enough petition signatures to bypass delegate selection. According this report from the Utah Foundation, Republican candidates are far more conservative than the median Republican voter. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the delegates selected ultra conservative candidate, Chris Herrod, as the Republican candidate for Congress. However, because of SB 54, a 2014 compromise bill that allows more Utahns more of a voice in candidate selection, candidates who collect enough signatures can avoid the convention process altogether. That’s how moderate Republican John Curtis, Mayor of Provo, landed on the primary ballot. And also Tanner Ainge, a lesser known conservative candidate.
Are you a Republican in CD-3? This year’s special election is a unique opportunity for you to make your primary vote really matter!
The primary is coming right up, so take a moment to check out the candidates and pick the person who best represents your beliefs and needs.
- Tanner Ainge – Conservative Republican focused on smaller government. Licensed attorney with experience in the investing and healthcare industries. Currently operates a small business consulting firm. Son of Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge.
- John Curtis – Moderate Republican focused on working for the people of Utah over the federal government building on his successes as a business owner and popular Mayor of Provo. His platform includes balancing the budget, getting public lands right, fixing health care for real, prioritizing national security and stopping corruption in Washington.
- Chris Herrod – Conservative Republican, former state representative (Provo) and current real estate developer, Herrod has focused his campaign on international experience he has gained from 5 years of living overseas. His platform includes complete repeal of the ACA, transfer of federal land into state hands, deportation of illegal immigrants and support for Trump’s travel ban.
7. Make a plan to vote
Start planning now for the upcoming primary election. Check out who the candidates are. Decide how you will vote — by mail-in ballot or in person — and make a plan for when you will vote and how you will get the transportation you need to do so. Block out a small amount of time in your calendar on the day you plan to vote to make sure you fit it into your schedule. Share your plan on social medial and encourage your friends and family to make a plan too.
Not just in the general election in November, but starting in a few short weeks in the primaries. Mail in your ballots or go to the voting booth to select the candidates you want to represent you. Then make sure your friends and family vote too!
1. Speak out against limits and work requirements for Medicaid. The state has requested that Medicaid coverage have limits and work requirements, and few Utahns have spoken out to defend the health care program that 308,000 Utahns, or 12% of Utahns population (including 25% of Utah children) rely on. Today may be your last chance to voice your concerns about this proposal. Here’s how.
- Speak up at the public hearing TODAY at 3:00-5:00p, Utah Department of Health, Cannon Building. This is a final public comment period, and it is very important for people to come and share their stories. Even better, ask a friend or family member to join you and comment as well.
- Call in and ask to make a public comment when appropriate. If you can’t make the public hearing in person, UDOH has provided a call in line at 1-877- 820-7831, passcode 313537#.
- Submit a written comment online through UDOH’s public comment form until July 20th.
2. Thank Lt. Governor Spencer Cox for protecting voter information. Donald Trump formed his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to scope out false claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election and put notorious voting rights suppressor Kris Kobach at the helm. The commission recently asked states not only for publicly available voter information (such as names, addresses and political affiliation of voters), but also for private information such as birthdates, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, felony convictions and military status. Ironically, Kobach himself has refused to provide private the Social Security number information of fellow Kansans to the commission. Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox provided only publicly available voter information as required by law, but refused to provide private information to the commission, stating: “There has been no evidence of mass voter fraud in Utah and we look forward to helping the federal government understand the steps we have taken to ensure the security and validity of Utah’s elections.”
- Say your thanks to Lt. Governor Spencer Cox for protecting our private information by writing him an email here or by calling his office at (801) 538-1041.
1. Protect nonpartisan organizations from being politicized. Trump vowed in February to kill the Republican Johnson Amendment, a 63-year old Republican bill with longstanding bipartisan support that requires 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations NOT to be politicized by interfering or participating in political campaigns for candidates. A small number of far right organizations are pushing to repeal or weaken the amendment, as are bills in both the House and the Senate. The House Appropriations Committee will be considering a bill to weaken the Johnson Amendment through a rider (Section 116) on July 12. To find out more about this issue, please click here.
- Call Congressman Chris Stewart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, by the end of the day TUESDAY and ask him to strip the Johnson Amendment rider (Section 116) from the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill to save our houses of worship, foundations and nonprofits from being politicized, polarized and from hurting their ability to carry out their missions.
- Have your nonprofit sign these letters. If you work for or are a member of a national nonprofit organization, make sure your organization signs onto the new Letter Opposing Weakening the Johnson Amendment in the FSGG Appropriations Bill and this Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship.
- Forward this to friends at nonprofit organizations by email or tweets and urge them to join you in contacting Representatives on the House Appropriations Committee and encouraging national nonprofits to sign the Letter Opposing Weakening the Johnson Amendment. Tweet with hashtags #JohnsonAmendment and/or #CommunityNotCandidates.
2. Oppose the House Appropriations Financial Service bill language that removes protections for conservation easements. What are conservation easements? Properties set aside for land conservation in exchange for hefty tax write-offs. Theoretically conservations are a win-win — except when land and potential development values are ballooned for better returns to investors. For this reason, greater IRS scrutiny was put in place over conservation easements last December, much to the chagrin of one of this tax break’s biggest fans: Donald J. Trump. Yes, Trump has nearly $64 million in conservation easements to his name. Now Congress has made moves to tell the IRS to keep their hands off the President’s favorite charitable tax dodge. How? By defunding the IRS by $149 million to start (audits are much harder with no one to perform them) and by removing the IRS’ jurisdiction over conservation easements altogether via “A new prohibition on funds to implement new IRS guidance on conservation easements,” according to the Appropriation Committee’s own press release. These proposals can be found in the very same Financial Services bill as the rider (Section 116) to the Johnson Amendment (above). So while you’re on the phone with Rep. Chris Stewart’s office about removing the rider, might as well mention this one too.
- Call on Rep. Chris Stewart to oppose language that removes protections for conservation easements in the House Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services bill to keep land conservationists honest and prevent them from ripping off American taxpayers with inflated values and no agency to curtail abuses.
Voting is a privilege
After celebrating the July 4th holiday, we remember the soldiers fallen to create and defend our great democracy. But a democracy is only as strong as the people willing to participate in it. Voting is not required in our country, but it is a right and a privilege and the very best way to impact policymaking around us — even in primary elections. Look for updates on elections in Utah — along with daily and urgent actions — from our Action Utah team on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram.
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah