Today's voting is called a primary election. The original meaning of that label, which sometimes still applies, is that it is a preliminary round of balloting that leads up to the final, more inclusive general election a few months hence.
But in many cases, especially when it comes to the majority of offices to be filled in Utah, it might also be called a primary election because it is of the most importance.
The state is such a deep shade of Republican red that whichever candidates come out of today's voting owning that party's line on the November ballot usually enter the race as odds-on favorites. Which is why all voters who are eligible to cast ballots in today's election should vote now, or forever hold their peace.
Voters who are officially registered as affiliated with the Republican, Democratic, Constitution or other party may only vote in their party's primary. Voters who are unaffiliated with any party may appear at their precinct polling place, sign up for the party of their choice, and exercise their franchise. (Some Republicans in the Legislature, unfortunately, want to change that for future elections. So now may be the last chance for unaffiliated voters to have this much clout.)
In key statewide races, the Republican primary is likely to be the one that counts. Miracles could always happen, but the R label on any Utah ballot is such a huge factor that those who carry it begin the campaign with a significant advantage.
In the U.S. Senate contest, longtime incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch is challenged by former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Two strong candidates John Swallow and Sean Reyes are seeking to replace the outgoing Mark Shurtleff as attorney general. Incumbent State Auditor Auston Johnson is being challenged by state Rep. John Dougall.
In Salt Lake County, where races are not always such a slam dunk for Republicans, the GOP primary for county mayor pits West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder against former council member Mark Crockett. The winner faces Democrat Ben McAdams in November.
Voting, at least under current law, is admirably open in Utah. Early voting at a limited number of locations began two weeks ago, while thousands of voters have chosen to cast their ballots by mail. All polling stations open bright and early today at 7 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m. (More detailed information is available online at vote.utah.gov.)
That's plenty of time, even for folks who work, to drop by and do their part for good or, at least, representative government.
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