Tribune Editorial: Time to vote

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Bret Chappell prepares primary election ballots for counting at the Salt Lake County Government Center on Wednesday July 1, 2020.

Now is the time for Utah to show the nation how it’s done.

Democracy, that is. (Sorry, Sen. Lee.)

There is absolutely no reason why Utah voters should not be about to lead the nation in voter participation, a key sign of a healthy democracy.

Unlike some other states, where those in power (Republicans) are pulling various tricks to suppress the number of other people (Democrats) who can vote this year, Utahns of both parties and at all levels are all-in on getting everyone to vote by mail.

It is almost as if we saw the COVID-19 pandemic coming and wanted to create a system of voting that greatly reduces the need for people to gather in larger groups.

Maybe it’s because the people in Utah who control the state election system (Republicans) and who run elections in the state’s most populous county (Democrats) are both in a position to benefit from the largest possible voter turnout. So there are no hints or allegations of ballot fraud, closing polling stations, and either removing ballot drop boxes or erecting phony ones.

By now, all of Utah’s registered voters should have received their mail-in ballots. If you haven’t, you should get a hold of your county clerk’s office. If you are not registered, and you have a Utah driver license, you can still register to vote online up until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23.

For information, check out vote.utah.gov or the website operated by each county election office.

Ballots can be returned by mail and, by law, will be counted if they are postmarked no later than the day before Election Day, or Nov. 2. Or they can be dropped off at any of the many official drop boxes in each county up until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Or, if you are just one of those people who can’t quite get it together politically, there will be early voting stations and traditional Election Day polling places scattered around all 29 Utah counties, and eligible citizens can register to vote in person on the spot. Utah does have some voter ID requirements for in-person voting, but they are not excessive.

The state and its counties have made the process easy but not automatic. There is, as there should be, still some responsibility on the voter to jump through the hoops.

The most important part of the process, other than the deadlines, is to properly return each ballot in the official envelope. And the most important part of that is for each voter to sign his or her ballot in the indicated space on the return envelope. (Or, if you live in Sanpete County, the spot on the envelope where the signature space should have been. It will still work.)

The fact that Utah has been a reliably red state in past statewide elections is no excuse for voters not to do their duty this year.

It is a stretch to think that Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a chance to carry Utah’s six electoral votes. But this is a strange year. All the ballots cast in Utah will go toward each candidate’s total popular vote and, if we wind up with a tightly contested election, that will have some moral sway.

And, as you have noticed if you watch any TV at all, there are other races in Utah, for seats in Congress, for governor and other statewide offices, all of the Utah House, part of the Utah Senate, at the county level, for the state school board and on seven proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution.

(The only downside of voting early is that you still have to endure all those nasty campaign ads up until Election Day.)

The state’s voter information pamphlet, with details on all the procedures, candidates and questions, is available online.

The old joke about a sloppy democracy is that you should vote early and often.

It’s no joke that it would be good for democracy if everyone voted early, not without consideration, but in time for all the ballots to be received and counted so that neither the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service nor the county election offices will be swamped any more than is necessary.

It’s time for citizens of this democracy to do their jobs.

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