The Commission is just starting its work and is excited you hear your thoughts and ideas.  Have you seen something that isn’t working? Do you have an innovative idea about how to increase voter participation? Please use the comment feature to share you ideas with the commission.  They’ll be available for everyone to view!


9 Comments so far

  1. on March 4, 2009 11:42 am

    I spent many of my 32 years as a reporter/editor covering Utah’s politics and, since retiring, I have been active in the Republican Party in Summit County, twice serving as a delegate to the Utah GOP State Convention. In that time I have determined the biggest roadblock to full democracy in Utah is the political party convention system. The existing system allows small groups to control the process, as we are seeing now with the selection of candidates to the State School Board. Virtually all of the new candidates are from the pro-voucher movement which was defeated in the 2007 general election by nearly two-thirds of Utah voters. But a pro-voucher school board can circumvent the will of the people. This is just one example. I support open primaries in all political races. And, if only one candidate files for the Republican or Democratic or Libertarian nomination, then that candidate would advance directly to the general election. And, if you have numerous candidates, then the person receiving the most votes in the primary would be that party’s general election candidate. I think the parties stll need to have their rules and platforms and support candidates, but I would end the nominating conventions. Additionally, the existing system creates an added financial burden on many candidates because now they have as many as three election cycles in one year. Thank you. If you wish more details, you have my e-mail address.

  2. charles lewis on March 4, 2009 6:27 pm

    Charge each person who does not vote a $10 surcharge on their state taxes. Increase the amount by $5 dollars after each 2 year general election.

  3. Ginger Dahlquist on March 5, 2009 8:05 am

    I think that voter turn out has been going down because people do not like to be labeled as a Republican, Democrat or Independent. Just a thought but if people could vote in primaries more would most likely turn out.

  4. Scott Konopasek on March 5, 2009 9:06 am

    It is my observation, as an experienced elections official and political scientist, that there are two systemic issues that depress voter participation in the State of Utah.

    The first issue is unnecessary barriers and obstacles in state law and currently proposed legislation regarding voter registration and maintenance of the accuracy of the voter registration rolls. Examples include restrictive registration deadlines, requirements that all updates to a voter’s record be initiated by the voter via a written registration form even though elections officials may have the voter’s correct information in their possession, requirement that voters provide additional information not required by federal law (place of birth and naturalization status and details)as well as by the current and proposed ID and proof of citizenship requirements.

    The second issue is the lack of competitive contests and, related to it, the dearth of compelling candidates. Voters feel that, in Utah elections, the value of their vote is diminished by the easily predicted outcomes of most contests. While some of the lack of competitiveness might be attributed to legislative Gerrymandering, this is not an adequate explanation of one party dominance in the state. The absence of and official indifference to effective voter education programs by state and local governments contribute greatly to voter indifference and ignorance. Also not to be forgotten as a source of this voter cynicism is the inability of political parties to develop compelling platforms and positions and to field competitive candidates that can mobilize voters to participate.

    Until these systemic issues are recognized by the parties, electeds, the media and community leaders (as well as this commission)and until multi-partisan, good faith attempts are made to address them; the work of this commission and other efforts to promote increased voter participation in Utah will remain mere platitudes.

  5. Gaylan Stewart on March 5, 2009 4:56 pm

    I would suggest that Utah discontinue “MotorVoter” registration, and create a computerized system to insure that no one is registered in more than one county or precinct. In fact it would be good to clear the name of any voter that hasn’t voted in the past two presidential cycles.(eight years) There are probably tens of thousands of “ghost” voters on the rolls. There are also probably tens of thousands that checked the box when getting a driver’s license that have never voted, including thousands of illegal aliens that received a Utah Driver’s License prior to 2005.

    Every year we hear of the low percentage turnout of registered voters in Utah. Since there are tens of thousands of registered voters that are registered in more than one county, moved from the state, are illegal aliens, have been registered for over a decade, but never voted, or some are very likely even dead. If the registration rolls were cleaned and MotorVoter discontinued we would see a large and immediate jump in the percentage of registered voters voting.

    It doesn’t hurt for a citizen to have to make the tiny effort to register to vote. Generally a Utah driver’s license(not a driver’s privilege card) or Utah ID card should be enough. Treating voters like little children, needing to be enabled in every little thing is silly. If we are worried about these uninterested citizens and have to enable them, we may as well lower the voting age to 10 and let those in 5th grade and above vote. We would likely get better results.

  6. Anonymous on March 7, 2009 9:44 am

    Please post publicly the following question and the commission’s answers. Thank you.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Who has been charged with moderating the comments and how were the moderators chosen.

    What kinds of things will trigger rejection of a comment?

    Will there be limits to how many comments a given individual can post?

  7. Doug Ealy on March 11, 2009 7:44 am

    I have two suggestions. First, the parties need to find a way to tone down the fringes of their parties. Changes need to be made to the caucuses such that the more radical elements have less sway. I attended last year’s state convention for the Utah Republican party and was appalled by the behavior of some groups. Previous to moving to Utah, I was a state delegate in Colorado and I assure you that the proceedings were far more civil and motivating. Both the left and the right have extreme elements who alienate the average voter. Second, I think we should move towards making each voter have a photo ID. This would greatly reduce the fear of voter fraud and thereby allow election officials to loosen some of the rules that inhibit participation. In conjunction with this change, all the polling places should be tied together electronically and once a voter has voted; all the polling locations should be updated such that the same person wouldn’t be able to go to another location and vote again. With this in place, people can vote closest to where they work instead of making arrangements to travel back to their precinct during the day or wait in line after work.

  8. Bob Henline on March 11, 2009 9:05 am

    Unfortunately, voter apathy in Utah is an issue that needs to be addressed by those choosing not to exercise their civic right (in my humble opinion, responsibility) to vote.

    While it is admirable that the Governor’s office is at least making a public issue out of low voter turnout, this isn’t something that belongs in the realm of a government agency. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor should have much more to worry about than addressing the issue of people choosing not to vote. If this is a commission funded by tax dollars, then it should be disbanded or reformed as a volunteer organization.

    That being said, Utah’s system is in need of dramatic makeover. The convention system ensures that only those playing the game of “old-boy partisan politics” will ever see their name on a general election ballot. There are a number of rules and regulations involved in the voting process that just don’t make sense. Utah’s governmental inability to deal with fraud and corruption while regularly attempting to enforce the predominant view of morality upon the citizenry discourages weak-willed voters from participating. Voter education is not the responsibility of the government, it is the responsibility of the voter. We, as citizens, need to start being responsible for our own actions (or inaction) and accept that there are consequences to choosing not to vote.

  9. Josh Ewing on March 11, 2009 3:57 pm

    Josh Ewing and Taylor Morgan are moderating. We have been fixing a few glitches in the website, but posts are now being moderated. No limits will be set on comments. Only lewd, inappropriate, vulgar, and spam comments will be rejected.