Voter participation is the foundation of our democracy, yet many citizens still don’t vote.  Do you have ideas about how to improve our election process or encourage more people to be involved?  Please use the comment feature to share your thoughts.


12 Comments so far

  1. Stephen MacDonald on March 4, 2009 5:00 pm

    The key to increasing voter turnout is by decreasing barriers that voters face in the electoral process.

    These include making voter registration easier. This may include, but not limited to, registration via the internet, satellite registration locations, election day registration and many other ideas that allow for citizens to register.

    Increase polling locations prior to and on election day. Allowing a voter to ability to vote in more than one location on more than just one day, will allow that voter more option and increase the likelihood that he or she will vote. This will come through increasing early voting, moving to vote centers, and increasing by mail voting.

    Give county clerks more discretion on polling locations. This will allow for better usage of poll workers and equipment that can carry more than one ballot.

    Create a voting calender that makes sense. Having two different primary elections, one for president, and one for all other candidates was confusing at best.

    One hindrance, especially in Utah is the lack of a true two party system. This discourages many to go and vote since they believe they will be throwing their vote away. A competitive race usually will see a higher turnout then one that is dominated by a single candidate.

  2. Danny Harris on March 5, 2009 6:49 am

    The reason I would be discouraged to vote is because our state legislators feel no accountability to their constituents. They can be as radical as they want because they live in a district that has been gerrymandered so badly that their re-election is assured because of their party affiliation. Our legislature wouldn’t be so bad and radical if they actually felt some accountability to voters. However, as it is now, they will vote against something that 80% of the state supports based on their radical ideology and there will never be an outcry because their election is not a contest.

  3. Gale Lemmon on March 11, 2009 9:04 am

    Although the percentage of registered voters that turned out on election day was regretable, I have some serious questions as to whether it is the government’s role to “increase voter turnout”. Certainly the government has an obligation to ensure that eligible voters are not prevented from exercising their right to vote. However, the question of whether or not a person votes, when he or she is not otherwise prevented from exercising his or her franchise, is solely a personal matter.

    Candidates, political parties, and supporters of candidates or causes all have a legitimate interest in “getting out the vote”, but the government, as such, should not go beyond protecting the unimpeded opportunity for a qualified person to exercise their right to vote — free from coercion.

  4. Drew Chamberlain on March 27, 2009 6:02 pm

    I am running for Vice-chair of the Davis County Republican party. The Current chair does not like me. He will not give me the delegate list until just before the convention. I cannot win. We need to strengthen the state law concerning party elections. County conventions produce general election candidates. Corrupt conventions will give us corrupt politicians. Call me for more information.

    Drew 801-913-4611

  5. on March 29, 2009 6:55 pm

    My sons have been on missions to countries that get EVERYONE to vote. They are unstable and the people know nothing about the people they are voting for. Don’t worry about increasing voter turnout. Those that care vote. Those that don’t, don’t deserve a voice or the right to complain!

  6. Lola Barrett on March 30, 2009 4:20 pm

    Reform has to start at the party level and I’m sure any changes would be fiercely fought. When a person belongs to a party and wants to run for office the party should not show partially to any candidate during the run up to the convention and primary as they consistently do now. The platform of the party should reflect the peoples/parties stand on issues as it doesn now and candidates should be sworn to uphold the platform and if they have differences they should be stated in their party convention speech to give the delegates an honest assessment prior to voting. Having a recall law on the books for those who stray from their sworn platform or commit other ethical violations would be a deterrent.

    Voting districts need to be by population within each county. District lines should not be drawn by elected representatives. Non-partian mayors in each county or city commissions could appoint a group of independent people to divide the districts by population based on the most recent census.

    People are angry that some people are voting illegally, either they may not be entitled to vote(convicted of a felony, have moved etc.), may be using a stolen I.D. or not be a citizen at all. I suggest the Utah driver’s license application process be modified to include presenting a certified copy of a birth certificate at the time the license is issued (not for renewals) and that the place of birth be on the driver’s license. Then when a person votes they show a picture I.D. with their birthplace on it and it should also have a current address, much easier to challenge a voter if needed too.

    I am opposed to making it as easy as it already is to register to vote. As citizens we have an obligation to know the issues and to vote. It is a privledge as well.

    I have served at the polls a number of times and I can tell you there are a lot of deceased people on the lists. There are a lot of people who have moved away on the lists, this needs addressed. The lists need to be updated more frequently. I often heard comments such as my husband has been dead for three years, or my son’s still listed, he moved 2 years ago when he got married.

    Get rid of Diebold computer voting and go back to paper ballots. We don’t have to have instant results.
    A good Recall law.
    The number of signatures needed for citizens to get something on the ballot should be lowered.
    Filing fees should be lowered.
    Polls should not be allowed to be published the last week before an election. Media should not be projecting winners within 3 hours of the polls closing. Most of the pollworkers haven’t even turned in their ballots/tapes within the first two hours so they couldn’t all be counted. It makes people think their vote doesn’t count or that it isn’t any use voting because the polls say so and so will win anyway.

    Our Federal Constitution states one must be a natural born citizen, be of at least a certain age, and not be a dual citizen to be president of the USA. Utah’s elections laws should include verification of those requirements. Anyone running for president of the United States of American must show proof they meet those requirements by providing a vault copy of their birth certificate to the designated Utah authority, perhaps the attorney general. Because Barack Obama has failed to do so it has now left me wondering why anyone would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting legal challenges when, if one is truly a natural born citizen, all they need to do is have Hawaii produce the vault copy of his birth. Did we elect someone who is ineligible?

  7. Will Carlson on April 15, 2009 8:48 am

    It’s been suggested by some that a low voter turnout is not necessarily a problem as the uninformed probably shouldn’t vote anyway. This is an assault on the idea of democracy itself. Half the population is dumber than average, but democracy is about the people, not the smarts.

    Three actions can and should be taken to improve voter turnout. First, minimize ID requirements to vote. The people who are least likely to have an ID at the polling booth are the elderly, the poor, and the uneducated. All three of these demographics have a great stake in the results of elections. Myths of voter fraud are unfounded and the greater fraud is to turn away disqualified voters or to make them complet provisional ballots which are rejected much more frequently than standard ballots.

    Second, impliment Election Day Registration. Idaho and Wyoming have joined the increasing number of states allowing people to register and vote at the same time on the same day. This will engage people who care about the political process enough to vote, but not enough to submit all the required paperwork a month before the election.

    Third, replace the current convention process with forced primaries to select party candidates. The best example of the current system’s failings can be found in Senator Buttars who has a dedicated but small core of followers who prevented all South Jordan residents from voting on whether Buttars represents their party values. District 10 is Republican, but they aren’t mean. And many are being forced to choose between their party and a jerk.

    Any of these will help voter turnout. All of them are necessary to bring Utah’s democracy to the level of strength that we all deserve.

  8. Roobah on May 26, 2009 10:20 am

    I recently assisted with helping a registered Utah voter who moved from one county to another. We went to the County Clerk’s office in order to process an ‘address change’ ONLY, in order to be properly registered to vote in the new precinct where this voter wished to be registered.

    It took ALMOST a week to do this, because the County Clerk would NOT accept any form of state or federal issued ID to register and would ONLY accept PROOF of RESIDENCY at the ADDRESS IN QUESTION by demonstrating proof of receiving “adaquate mail or proof of residency at the address” (utilities, lease, etc.) at at the new address. Unfortunately, the person in question is NOT the one paying the utilities (all utilities included in the lease), is NOT the one who signed the lease (another person living in the house pays all bills and the person in question shares paying different bills), and as of yet, did not have any mail coming to that address (did not WISH to receive mail at this address, but registered the address to recieve mail in order to register to vote only), because of lack of bills / or paying bills online. For more than 5 years NO ONE ELSE at this address had ever received mail here, instead getting mail delivered to a nearby address instead.

    It took us DAYS and DAYS to, register to start recieving mail at this address in order to “qualify to vote”, find a way around this dilemma (no qualifying bills delivered here in the proper name), in an attempt to register to vote at the new address. (A driver’s licence with database updated address to the new address was NOT deemed adaquate, and required WRITTEN proof from the DMV anyway, which they are NOT set up to provide as the DMV we use is a remote facility and does not have printers or a means to print out such data, and doing that for the purpose of “proving an address” in the DMV database, is NOT a service the DMV provides to other state government agencies, so the DMV said (and I agree, it should not be their job to “certify addresses” of licensed and State ID registered persons.

    The County Clerk insisted ONLY a “legal bill” (of her choice) delivered to the address in question with the person in question’s name on it would suffice to register the person in question to vote in the new precinct. (Nevermind that a marriage document demonstrating that the spouse DID have bills going to that address in the spouse’s name and a statement that the spouses lived together… that was not proof enough either, as the clerk said, a marriage certificate was not proof enough that the person lived in the same house as the spouse.) We asked if church records establishing residency would suffice, Clerk said, “No one had ever asked her that before, but she was inclined to say, ‘No’.”

    The County Clerk INSISTED that while she was required to at a minimum, follow state law in order to register voters, she had SOLE DISCRESSION to implement other [non-codified, arbitrary] measures to assure that only qualified voters attempted to register. She insisted she needed to do this because ONE of the towns in her district was made up of nearly all part-time residents who didn’t qualify to register as voters for that town, thus she “made up” rules for everyone in the county which would fairly eliminate the “small town intruders” from falsely registering to vote where they were not full-time residents.

    So, I ask, ANY OTHER PERSON IN THE STATE could theoretically bring in a utility bill for ANY ADDRESS they could theoretically get assigned in their name and THAT would be sufficient to register them to vote at a particular address… even an illegal alien or out of state resident, since in her mind, legal ID was NOT sufficient to determine eligiblilty to register to vote, but legal bills at a given address in a given name WAS sufficient for registration. WE KNOW illegal aliens in the past were issued REGULAR driver’s licenses and ID cards, so given her requirements, one of those cards and a bill in the name of the person in question at a particular address WOULD be sufficient to register, while a person QUALIFIED AND REGISTERED as a UTAH VOTER would not be able to change an address to a new precinct if the same documents could not be obtained.

    MY SUGGESTION: IF voter registration is not already stringent enough, please make it so at the state level, and FORCE EVERY COUNTY CLERK to follow the state law EXPLICITLY and DO NOT allow them the right to add on arbitrary uncodified rules that make registration to vote NEAR IMPOSSIBLE for some voters, who should not have to endure this kind of “hoop-jumping” and DAYS and DAYS of paperwork chasing just to CHANGE VOTING PRECINCT when one moves.

    It should be EASIER for an already registered Utah voter, already registered within the state, to UPDATE their registration to a new precinct/address, NOT make it nearly impossible such that a NON-VOTER would find it much easier to register in the same precinct. There should be a means of adding a voter to one precinct and deleting them from their old precinct records in some state-wide database so that a voter can register ANYWHERE within the state and be assured of only coming up registered in exactly ONE precinct. Voters ALREADY established as Utah residents should be able to do this with MINIMAL effort, even do it online, instead of being FORCED to travel MILES to jump through all kinds of legal hoops to get such a simple thing accomplished.

    NO WONDER VOTERS DON’T WANT TO VOTE!!! I guarantee to you, if a novice person had gone through what we went through, they would have just given up and likely NEVER voted or registered to vote because of such hassles.

  9. lani baker on November 2, 2009 12:57 pm

    Assuming people understand elections is a huge mistake. Creating “active” community education programs that canvas and teach our citizens about democracy, the constitution and election process would be a powerful tool in moving this idea forward.

  10. PCS on February 17, 2010 5:14 pm

    My main issue with voting is the closed primary. I do not want to register for a specific party. I want to vote for the best person.

  11. Emily Dziatlik on May 12, 2010 11:00 am

    I believe a way to increas voter registration and turn out at the voting polls would be to first start at high school, We should have a class were we learn all about todays government. Not even a full class but a lesson tought to seniors in their history class. Next we should have a way to regester at school. We have voting booths at our school, why not a regestration booth? This would open it up to all students that maybe couldnt get chance to regester on their own. 2nd We live in a technoligy world, why not use it? I know that there are thousands of aps on our iphone today, why not create an app for voting registration? Its a difficult process to registrate can we cut it down a little, or be able to register online, through our phone enternet connection or somthing? If we make it easier to access then more will vote.

  12. Jani Radebaugh on November 2, 2010 9:07 am

    I was turned away at the polls today because I did not have proof of residency (I went home and got said document). While I was voting, another citizen was turned away because he did not have proof of residency. Voting day is not the time to reasses residency, because too many votes are lost. Perhaps there can be a recurring time of re-registry, so that on voting day, a simple ID is all that is needed.