Mail-in voting key tool for local election process

Thursday , June 07, 2018 - 12:00 AM2 comments

Each election cycle, we hear the reasons as to why people don’t vote: ‘I don’t have time,’ ‘I forgot,’ ‘My vote doesn’t matter anyway.’

There should be no excuse this year for Weber County residents to not let their voting voice be heard, as ballots for Utah’s June 26 primary election can be filed by mail starting this week.

Utah’s mail-in voting system, which went into effect in 2015, allows residents to vote from the comfort of home, avoiding lines and other issues that can arise on Election Day.

The ballots were mailed out Tuesday, according to Ryan Cowley, Weber County’s director of elections. He said 66,375 primary elections ballots went out in the mail, with 44,021 sent to voters registered as Republicans while 11,662 ballots went to registered Democrats. The Constitution, Green, Libertarian and United Utah parties account for another 1,142 voters while the remainder are for those unaffiliated with any political party.

Voter registration goes until June 19. If you want to vote by mail and have not yet registered, that needs to happen by Tuesday, June 12. Any voter who registers between June 12 and June 19 will be required to cast their ballot on Election Day.

Mail-in votes need to be mailed back to the county election office, or they can be deposited in drop boxes at city halls in Weber County’s 15 cities or at county library locations in Ogden, North Ogden, Roy, Huntsville and Washington Terrace. More information can be found at weberelections.com.

Voting remains at the core of our nation’s system of government. If you support a candidate, you can express that at the ballot box. It’s also important to note that each vote does matter, as we see time and again with races – usually at the local level – being decided by a handful of votes.

Off-year primaries such as this month’s election tend to see lower participation numbers. In 2014, for example, primary election turnout for Weber County was 6.37 percent of all registered voters, according to figures from the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office. While we understand much of that low turnout stemmed from a lack of contested races on the ballot, there’s still no excuse for less than 7 in 100 residents turning out at the polls.

Cowley did tell us that in 2016, upward of 90 percent of Weber County residents who voted did so via mail-in ballot. Voters responded during the 2016 general election, with Weber County seeing voter turnout of nearly 86 percent. That’s beyond impressive, and we can only hope that voters continue this election cycle with the same enthusiasm shown in 2016.

On the ballot during this primary are six Republican primaries – voters will select a nominee for U.S. Senate, Weber County sheriff, a seat on the Weber County Commission and three state House of Representative seats. Only one Democratic primary is to be decided, in the 1st District U.S. House race.

There are three nonpartisan races for the Ogden School District Board of Education and the Weber School District Board of Education. Those are the races that make the most difference in our daily lives, where government is closest to the people. Remember that and vote.

Winners of the GOP and Democratic primaries will earn a place on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The top two vote-getters in the three school board races also move on to the November ballot.

Taking advantage of the mail-in voting process is excellent insurance against something unexpected happening on Election Day. We encourage you to cast your ballot early.

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