Sharlee Mullins Glenn: It’s not too late to have a voice in Utah’s primary election

If you are unregistered or unaffiliated you can still vote for Becky Edwards over Mike Lee.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Becky Edwards participates in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022, the first in three years.

When signing the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982, President Ronald Reagan stated, “The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties.” Years later, the great civil rights leader John Lewis reminded us that, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument we have in a democratic society. And we must use it.”

For a citizen of a constitutional democratic republic like the United States of America, voting is not only a right; it is a duty.

Utah faces a highly consequential midterm election this year — one that will determine who will represent the state in the Senate for the next six years. The incumbent, Sen. Mike Lee, has long been a proponent of term limits and even pledged to pass legislation limiting senators to two terms — and yet he, himself, is running for a third term.

It’s time for a new senator — one who will honor her promises, listen to and work hard for her constituents, and uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, no matter the circumstances. Lee’s complicity in the events leading up to the January 6 attack on our nation’s capital and his subsequent duplicity regarding the facts of his involvement unfortunately disqualify him from any position of public trust.

Thankfully, there is a very viable alternative for Utah voters. Republican Becky Edwards is an experienced and effective lawmaker, having served very successfully in the Utah Legislature for 10 years. She is a Lincoln conservative who will base her policies on sound moral principles and not on allegiance to hyper partisan positions, alliances, or personalities.

And she can win. But only if the large number of unregistered and/or unaffiliated voters in Utah show up.

An embarrassingly large number of Utahns are not registered to vote. And according to the most recent data, there are 562,121 unaffiliated voters in Utah. These are people who are registered, but who have chosen not to affiliate with any particular political party.

Unaffiliated voters represent the second largest bloc of voters in Utah — right after Republicans. Unfortunately, given the Utah Republican party’s closed primary system, only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary.

The good news is that unregistered or unaffiliated voters can still register as Republican in order to have a voice in this critical primary election. The deadline for registering/affiliating online has passed, but unregistered or unaffiliated voters can still register/affiliate at an early voting location or at the polls on election day — June 28. There, you will be allowed to vote by provisional ballot, provided you bring a valid form of ID and proof of residency (such as a utility bill).

The stakes are too high this election for apathy or for misplaced stubbornness. Refusing to register or to affiliate in a state dominated by one party which has adopted a closed primary system simply means that you have no voice.

Claim your voice and make it heard by registering or affiliating at an early voting location or at the polls on June 28. It is your sacred right and your solemn duty.

Sharlee Mullins Glenn

Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Pleasant Grove, is an ethics advocate, an author, a community organizer, and an engaged citizen.