Voter Registration 101
This election season, there has been a lot of speculation about who the millennial generation (18 to 33-year-olds) will support. According to the U.S. Census, there are 83.1 million millenial votes up for grabs. But, despite showing political opinions on their Facebook feeds or rocking "Vote Bernie" bumper stickers on their cars, young people have a reputation for not showing up on Election Day.
For many young Parkites, this may be the first time they’ve voted in the state of Utah. Many of Park City’s millennials are seasonal residents or have recently moved here from out-of-state, making voting a little trickier. Even so, with critical federal, state, and county offices on the ballot, it’s very important for young voters in Park City to know how to register before November.
Wyatt Shane, 25, and Larissa Bortz, 24, moved to Park City from Vermont a year and a half ago. They say they are doing their best to negate their generation’s reputation for being disengaged and lazy when it comes to voting.
Both were surprised by the number of people who showed up for Summit County’s recent Democratic Caucus.
"I had no idea there were so many Democrats in Utah," said Bortz. However, they were disappointed there weren’t more young people.
"I pride myself in being a politically engaged person," said Bortz who is glad to be voting outside her home state. "Voting for a Democrat in Utah means much than in Vermont."
Although young people might hold ties to their home states, voting locally allows them to directly effect their lives in Park City. Beyond the presidential vote, the general election will determine who will sit on the Summit County Council whose members make decisions that affect zoning and development, land use, transportation, taxes and overall quality of life in Park City.
Two major issues affecting young people in Park City are transportation and affordable housing. Kim Carson, Summit County Council Chair, says the council is always trying to make living and working in Park City more attainable for young people. According to Carson, providing affordable housing close to someone’s workplace alleviates the constant traffic and lack of parking in the city.
According to County Clerk, Kent Jones, "When residents get politically involved at a young age, they are more likely to stay engaged in the community It’s important for young people to not let older generations make decisions for them."
Jones also encourages students to register, even if they aren’t 18 yet. "If you know you’ll be 18 by Election Day, it’s fine to pre-register because your file won’t become active until your birth date," he said.
Voter Registration 101:
There are two ways to register to vote. The first option for those who hold a Utah driver’s license is to simply register online. Those who don’t have a Utah license can still register via mail, or in person at the County Clerk’s office (located at the County Courthouse on Main Street in Coalville).
If registering in person or by mail you must provide copies of one form of photo ID that includes your name, or two forms of non-photo ID that include your name and proof of residency within the voting precinct. Examples of a non-photo ID that proves residency would be a current utility bill from within 90 days before the election, a bank statement, mail, or recent paycheck.
The mail-in registration form can be downloaded online and must be postmarked at least 30 days before an election to be eligible. An in-person registration at the County Clerk’s office is eligible up to 7 days before the election.
For those wishing to become a citizen of Utah, you can register to vote at the DMV once you receive your new license and registration. It may be hard to part with your home state identity, but becoming a legal and engaging member of your new home may be worth ditching your old license mugshot.
If you don’t wish to vote in Utah, it’s still important to have your voice heard in your home state. Some people prefer to vote in their hometown elections because certain issues or candidates are still important to them. In that case, an absentee ballot must be requested from your state by mail or online. If you haven’t registered in your home state, the deadline for registering is sometime in October (exact dates vary state by state).
Finally, when registering, a voter can choose to become affiliated with a specific political party. Those on the fence about which party to choose, can register as "Unaffiliated." And, according to Jones: it is important to remember that party allegiance only matters in primary elections and doesn’t impact who you can vote for in the general election.
For more information go to: vote.utah.gov
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