American democracy is under attack just about everywhere you look.
Followers of former President Donald Trump continue to promote lies about how the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The U.S. House Select Committee investigating the 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol continue to bring forward more chilling testimony about how public officials in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and elsewhere who stood up to the lies — even Republicans who otherwise support their party — have been subjected to online attacks and death threats.
Similar attacks have been leveled against Tina Cannon, a conservative Republican who is challenging incumbent Utah’s 1st District Rep. Blake Moore in Tuesday’s primary election. It has been enough to cause Cannon to stop announcing her campaign stops for fear of actual acts of violence.
There is a widespread, active — though, so far, thankfully ineffective — drive to make free and fair elections less important in determining who will hold public office in the United States than seeing who can shout the loudest, smash the most things, carry the biggest guns and tell the most outrageous lies.
If you are worried about that and wonder what you can do to defend democracy, the answer is really very simple. It involves a small amount of effort and — so far, anyway — little risk of personal danger.
Vote. Just vote.
The way for most of us to defend democracy in America, in Utah, is to exercise it, vigorously and at every opportunity. The way to make sure elections are more important than brute force or brazen falsehood is to make sure that so many people participate in them that they can’t be easily ignored or laughed away.
The next opportunity for us to bolster our democracy is Tuesday’s primary elections. Yes, even though county clerks all over the state sent nearly everyone a ballot in the mail almost three weeks ago, it’s not too late.
Those mail-in ballots can still be sent back through the Postal Service, but they must be postmarked no later than Monday, the day before Election Day. Or they can be dropped off at any of a number of drop boxes or returned to county clerks’ offices, early voting sites or to Election Day polling places.
The most important part of this primary is the voting on the Republican side, because that party has such a large advantage in membership, organization and money in Utah that its candidates start the general election cycle with a giant advantage. In several races for seats in the Utah Senate and House and Utah State Board of Education, the winner of the GOP primary will be unopposed in the November general election.
If you were already registered to vote and already affiliated with the Republican Party, you should have received that party’s primary ballot in the mail. If you didn’t get one, or accidentally tossed it because you are not accustomed to getting important things in the mail, you can still vote at early voting or Election Day polling places.
If you are not registered, or if you are registered but haven’t formally affiliated with any party, you can register and/or affiliate at an early voting center or Election Day polling place. You’ll need to bring ID and some proof of address, such as a current utility bill.
(Sorry. If you are registered and affiliated with the Democratic or any other party, you are not allowed to move over to the Republican ballot this late.)
State figures updated just last week show that Utah has some 1.67 million active registered voters out of an adult population of roughly 2.3 million. Of those registered, 877,000 are declared Republicans, followed by 471,000 unaffiliated, and 236,000 Democrats. Even discounting people who aren’t eligible because they aren’t citizens or some other reason, that’s a lot of room for more people to show up and register, or affiliate, and have a say in their government.
We have called to account public officials in Utah and elsewhere who seem less concerned with defending democracy than promoting their own partisan goals. And we will continue to do so.
But this is a democracy. And, in a democracy, you can’t blame every problem on those in office. The voters, the people, have a say in all this, and they fail to do their duty, to democracy and to future generations, when they fail to do their part.