This article by Sean Higgins originally appeared on KCPW.org. Read it in its entirety here.
With less than 50 days until the election on November 3rd, community advocacy organization Action Utah hopes to better educate voters as they cast their ballots this election season.
Voting can at times be both straight-forward and confusing. Sometimes, voting is harder than just filling in the box next to your favorite candidate when complex ballot questions are also up for a vote.
That’s where Action Utah wants to help.
Founded in 2016, Action Utah is a non-partisan community advocacy organization aimed at empowering Utahns to become more engaged citizens on the issues that mean the most to them.
The organization provides tools and resources, training, and puts on informative events all with the goal of increasing voter turnout each election cycle.
Andrea Himoff is the Executive Director of Action Utah and told KPCW the organization has put on two “What’s on Your Ballot” discussions so far, with another two scheduled for September 30th and October 15th.
The “What’s on Your Ballot” events are panel discussions with people on both sides of issues educating the public on hot-button and complex topics like education funding, water rights, and changing language in the state constitution.
Himoff said the next two “What’s on Your Ballot” events will be all about who and what will be on Utahns’ ballots this year.
“We’re holding our next event on September 30th on all seven of the constitutional amendment questions so that people can really understand all seven of them and our final event will be on October 15th about who’s on your ballot, which is about the candidates and what type of candidates you can expect to see and how to learn more about them so that you can really cast a vote up and down the ballot for every person and measure on your ballot,” said Himoff.
If you missed the first two “What’s on Your Ballot” events, you can still watch them on Action Utah’s website or their social media channels. That’s also where you’ll be able to participate in the next two events.
One of the discussions last week was on one of the most divisive issues in America at the moment — police reform. Himoff said it was important to talk about such a complex issue with a diverse range of viewpoints.
“The goal of that event was really to bring together a wide variety of voices to talk about a complicated issue that’s often misunderstood,” she explained. “A lot of folks kind of equate the idea of police reform with ‘defunding the police,’ but the truth is that there’s no credible group in Utah, really no organized groups that are talking about defunding the police.”
Himoff said the President of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, the President of the NAACP in Salt Lake City, the Chair of the Salt Lake City Council, and members of Utahns Against Police Brutality all participated in the discussion.
“All of the groups weren’t talking about if there should be police reforms, but, really, what those reforms should look like for Utah and also how community members need to be part of the conversation,” she said. “And to do so they need to go beyond protesting, like, keep protesting, that’s great, but also what’s really needed to move policy forward is to start talking with lawmakers at the local and state levels.”
Voting in this year’s general election will look a little different than the primary elections did in June. Although all Utahns who are registered to vote will receive ballots in the mail prior to election day, in-person early and election day voting will be available at polling locations across the state.
Even though in-person voting will be available, election officials are asking voters to cast their ballots early and by mail if possible in order to avoid long lines and potential COVID-19 risks at the polls.
If you are old enough and eligible to vote, the deadline to register to vote in Utah is 5pm on Friday, October 23rd. You can register to vote online, by mail, or in person where available. For more information about voting in Utah, click here.