Your Utah election calendar (and how to register as an R), Editorial Board writes

Participation in the 2022 session starts in March.

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Delegates to the Utah County Republican Convention chose vote in the District 14 race in the "Thunderdome" basketball arena, at Timpview High in Provo, Saturday, April 16, 2016.

The 2022 session of the Utah Legislature is in the books. This year’s State of the Union Address has been delivered. If you were happy with any of it or, particularly, if you weren’t, responsibility for what happens next is about to fall to you.

The voters of Utah. Yes, already.

The Utah Republican Party’s Caucus Night is Tuesday. If you really want to get in on the ground floor of governing in Utah, that’s where you get on.

That’s when registered Republicans will gather in 2,500 precincts across all 29 counties to choose delegates to county and state conventions, delegates who will in turn put up candidates for offices ranging from United States Senator and four members of the House of Representatives to members of the Utah Legislature and county offices.

Utah Democrats will meet to do the same on March 22.

Candidates who are successful in their conventions, and those who get onto their party’s primary ballot by gathering signatures on petitions, will face their party’s voters in the state’s June 28 primary elections. The deadline to register to vote in those primaries is June 17. Unless you are currently affiliated with the Democrats or another party and want to switch to vote in the Republican primary, in which case a new state law requires that you complete that transition by March 31.

Why would you want to switch parties? And why is the deadline for so doing so much sooner?

The fact is that the Republican Party is so dominant in Utah politics — in numbers, funding, organization and habit — that carrying the Republican nomination into the November general election is just about a free ticket to victory anywhere outside Salt Lake City.

So if you as a voter want to have any say at all in who represents you in Congress or the Legislature, you may well feel that you should vote in the Republican primary. Or start even sooner and work even harder to participate in the GOP caucus and convention system. Both of those are only open to registered Republicans. (Democrats hold what is called an open primary, accepting any registered voter who chooses a Democratic ballot.)

Some of the leaders of the Republican Party, which means leaders of the Utah Legislature, are openly paranoid in a belief that Democrats or other non-Republicans might mess up the works by voting in Republican caucuses or primaries, pushing the party to nominate candidates that either are too liberal to be “real Republicans” or are such obviously flawed candidates that one of two of them might actually lose to a Democrat in November.

Not that that’s ever happened. But it’s why the caucuses and primaries are open only to registered Republicans. And that’s why many party leaders still object to the petition-gathering route to the June primary as an alternative to the much more controlled caucus/convention system.

And that’s why the Utah Legislature so obviously skews even further to the right — to a tax-cutting, culture war-fighting wing of the party that is less supportive of public education, environmental protection and the preservation of public lands — than the average Utahn, or even the average Republican.

The process is a little more open now. Thanks to SB54, enacted by the Legislature in 2014, candidates can skirt the caucus/convention system and get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures on petitions. But that process is still only open to registered Republicans.

Whether you think Utah, its Legislature, its Republican Party, its Democratic Party, or your local county officials are on the right track or not, it is your duty as a citizen and a voter to take advantage of the democratic processes we have, our state’s relatively easy avenues to voter registration (anyone with a Utah driver license can do it online).

Whether one feels that the status quo around here is nigh-on perfect and should be defended, or that it needs a lot of work, the way to do either is to participate as much and as soon as you can.