Utah has a rich history of civic engagement and democratic participation. The 2008 general election was a proud part of this tradition as it concluded with a near record turnout. Unfortunately, our participation in the 2008 primary election and 2006 primary and general elections bestowed Utah citizens with the dubious distinction of having among the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Of course, Utah citizens are busily engaged in countless patriotic, community building, and family enriching activities, but these activities cannot excuse us from exercising our fundamental civic duties nor should our voter turnout be dependent on the excitement of the race.

The Governor’s Commission on Strengthening Utah’s Democracy recognizes that laws, regulations, and other government programs have an impact on citizens’ ability and desire to vote. Neither the problems nor cures are partisan issues, but rather are shared by all Utah citizens. A large majority of our citizens consider the reported scandals by certain Utah government officials to be “serious” and are demanding ethics reform. Simply put, Utahans want and deserve a system that they can believe in and that works for the benefit of all. Accordingly, the Commission will examine the following areas critical to Utah’s democracy and report back to the Governor and Utah citizenry regarding its findings, conclusions, and recommendations:

1. Ethics laws (gift and conflict-of-interest laws and independent ethics commission)
2. Campaign finance laws
3. Redistricting laws and procedures
4. Lobbying regulations (disclosure and revolving door issues)
5. Elections (caucus and convention system, open or closed primary, voter registration, and voting options)

Note - In a letter dated April 15, 2009, Governor Huntsman directed the Commission to focus on elections, campaign finance, and lobbying.