Commentary: A call to unaffiliated voters to turn out Tuesday

We will not be complicit by being complacent. That is the motto of our nonpartisan group, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, our rallying cry. During this deeply troubling time in our history, we have committed to act, and not to be acted upon.

 We face a critical election in Utah Tuesday — one that will impact not just our state but the entire nation and, by extension, the larger global community. This Republican primary will almost certainly, given the political makeup of the state, determine who will represent the Third Congressional District of Utah in Washington, D.C. for the next several years. And we in Utah have a unique opportunity here — a chance to set the tone for the rest of the country regarding the upcoming pivotal midterm elections of 2018. We can speak out with our votes against the extreme partisanship and gridlock in D.C. by sending someone to Congress who can work across the aisle to get things done, who has both integrity and common sense, and who will consistently put people, principles, and country over party.

 But to do this, we must engage. We must claim our right to vote.

 Over 37 percent of registered voters in Utah are officially “unaffiliated.” That is the second largest group of voters in the state, right after Republicans. Many of these are disenchanted Republicans who feel betrayed by their party and see it as no longer representing their traditional conservative values. Given that the Republican party in Utah has elected to have closed primaries, these voters are basically disenfranchised unless they affiliate as Republicans (which Utah election law allows) so that they can cast their vote for our next representative from CD3 in what, for all practical purposes, is a one-party state. Otherwise, these tax-paying, law-abiding constituents have no voice.

 These voters must claim their rights and make their voices heard. Because of widespread confusion surrounding this special election — confusion created by misinformation, miscommunication and major mix-ups. (Ballots were mistakenly sent to unaffiliated voters in several counties, followed two weeks later by postcards that were supposed to clear up the confusion, but instead just created more) — many registered but unaffiliated voters do not realize that they can go to the polls on Tuesday, affiliate as Republicans, and cast their vote. Also, these same unaffiliated voters may not realize that if they mailed in the ballot that was sent to them by accident, their votes will not be counted. They must show up in person at the polling station on Tuesday, affiliate there, and then vote.

 Many of us look around in bewilderment at the surreal political landscape we find ourselves in today and wonder, how did this happen? It happened, largely, because many of the good people of the world were sleeping. Comfortable. Complacent. Many of us have awakened now. But it’s not enough just to wake up. We have to get up. We have to get up, put on our work boots and our cloaks of charity, and then we have to walk out the door. We have to show up at rallies and town halls meetings and caucuses. We have to go to soup kitchens and hospitals and homeless shelters. We have to attend city council meetings and participate in church service projects. And, of course, we have to get ourselves to the polls.

 This call is not, as some have suggested, an attempt by “liberal groups” to get a more “liberal” candidate in office. This isn’t about liberal or conservative at all. Nor is this about campaigning for any particular candidate.  It’s about ethics. It’s about duty. It’s about democracy. And it’s about calling on all citizens everywhere to exercise your fundamental right to vote Tuesday.

Mormon Women for Ethical Government is a nonpartisan group dedicated to the ideals of decency, accountability, transparency and justice in government. The authors are Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Linda Kimball Hoffman, Melissa Dalton-Bradford, founders, Megan Blood Seawright, Utah chapter lead, and Catherine Eslinger, Lisa Rampton Halverson, Tay Gudmundson, Utah chapter co-leads.