This Op-Ed by Executive Director Andrea Himoff originally appeared in the Deseret News. You can read it in its entirety here.
In the midst of ongoing protests that exhibit an unprecedented level of engagement in our state, Utahns are demonstrating the importance of getting engaged to have a voice in the issues, make change and represent the will of the people. We hope Utahns will pour the same enthusiasm and engagement into the 2020 elections, beginning with the primary election on June 30.
Whatever your cause, whatever your political ideology, voting is one of the most powerful ways to amplify the voices of leaders who represent constituent interests and to hold elected officials accountable. But as important as committing to vote is knowing how to cast a ballot. If you plan to vote in the 2020 elections, chances are you will be doing so by mail.
Utah introduced mail-in ballot voting in 2013, giving our state a head start in preparing for election procedure changes necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, Utah has also had time to evaluate the impacts of mail-in ballot voting. According to the lieutenant governor’s office, voter fraud in Utah is extremely rare, even with mail-in ballot voting. Security measures like signature confirmation protect Utah elections while ensuring the anonymity of ballots.
While studies from around the country have shown that mail-in ballot voting does not favor one political party over another, data does show that mail-in ballot voting increases voter turnout, strengthening elections and democracy where the practice has been put in place.
Voting will once again be held primarily by mail across the state during the 2020 primary election and strictly by mail in most counties. Eligible voters who are affiliated with a political party will automatically be sent a mail-in ballot one to three weeks before the election. Unaffiliated voters may request a ballot in order to participate in the primary election, if there is one in your area. Unaffiliated voters are invited to request a Democratic ballot to participate in Democratic primaries. However, unaffiliated voters must affiliate with the Republican party by June 19 in order to receive a Republican primary ballot.
For the 2020 primary election, significant changes have been made to voting procedures that voters should know about in order to successfully cast their ballots. Importantly, there will be no early voting, no same-day registration and no provisional ballots. All voter registration, registration updates and party affiliation changes must be made online by June 19. Use the state’s election website vote.utah.gov, register by texting “VOTERISE” to 788-683 or go to Voterise.org to make sure you are eligible to participate in the primary of your choice.
Notably, seven counties have opted to provide drive-thru voting locations, including Utah, Salt Lake, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Iron and Box Elder counties. Check local county election websites for details and locations. Otherwise, ballots must be dropped off at ballot drop box location by 8 p.m. on June 30 (find locations near you at vote.utah.org) or mailed through the Postal Service — be sure to postmark by election day. If you cannot find a stamp, use a ballot drop box, or mail your ballot without postage, and the Postal Service will still deliver your ballot to your county clerk’s office.
In Utah elections, every vote counts. Winners in some state races have been decided by only a handful of votes. Ask Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, who lost her first bid for legislative office by only three votes. Other races have been so close they were determined by a coin toss when the vote tally came in at a tie. In close races like this, a single-family or single individual could determine the outcome of elections ranging from the city to state level.
With so much at stake for our families and communities, make sure you get your voice heard by casting your mail-in ballot on election day.