Josh Daniels: Three things voters need to know before this year’s municipal elections

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A voter drops off her ballot at the drop-off location in Lehi, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Ballots for municipal primary elections are hitting mailboxes across the state. The results of these elections will determine mayors, city council members and other local positions for the next four years.

These elected offices hold just as much influence over your daily life as any member of Congress, senator and even the president. Hot button issues such as affordable housing and land-use requirements, business licensure and regulation and local law enforcement are greatly influenced by who your local elected officials are. That is why it is so important that you make your voice heard.

Unfortunately, off-year municipal elections do not see the voter turnout that they should. As an elections official, I know how important it is to help voters be informed so they can cast their vote as easily as possible. Here are three things you need to consider before voting in this year’s election:

1. Are you registered to vote?

Voting is your opportunity to shape the direction of your community, state and country. Yet many are not able to exercise this franchise because they are not registered to vote. Registering to vote is easy. Voter registration status can be checked by visiting Vote.Utah.Gov. There, you can review your voter registration status and update your address if necessary.

If you are not currently registered to vote, you can submit a new registration on that same website. The deadline to register to vote for the upcoming primary election is July 30. If you miss the registration deadline, you can register to vote at the polls on election day.

2. Is your city conducting a ranked choice voting election?

In Utah, a ranked choice voting ballot allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If their top choice does not earn a simple majority of the votes, their vote goes to their second choice, and so on. This method eliminates the need for a primary election entirely.

This year, 23 Utah cities have opted to conduct their municipal elections in this fashion. If your city is one of them, you will not have a primary to vote in. You can see if your city is participating in ranked choice voting here.

3. The election is safe, secure and fair.

Utah is a leader in elections security that protects the republican system of government created by our founders. We have conducted secure statewide vote-by-mail elections for over 10 years now. With each election, security gets stronger. Utah institutes a variety of controls to protect election processes and outcomes such as dual custody of all election materials, signature verification by at least two trained election employees, increased physical and cybersecurity measures and continual training of employees on best practices. Utahns should know that our elections are safe, secure and fair.

Utah is facing many challenges and this year’s elections are critical. The policies enacted as a result of this election will impact the quality of life in our state for years to come.

Election officials and their staff of professionals are dedicated to removing barriers that get in one’s way of exercising their right to vote. It is our goal to make elections efficient and secure. The responsibility then falls to you, the voter, to ensure that you show up. Study the candidates, attend town halls, fill out your ballot, then drop it in the mail or a dropbox location near you.

As a voter and resident of Utah, I encourage you to take full advantage of this year’s elections, make your voice heard, and help prepare our state for the growth, challenges and successes ahead.

Josh Daniels | Utah County Clerk/Auditor

Josh Daniels is the Utah County clerk/auditor.

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