Editorial: There’s plenty to do in summer — and voting in primaries may be the most important
Temperatures have warmed, the snow has disappeared from the trails, and the much-loved dining decks have re-emerged on Main Street. Summer is here, and residents are taking advantage, soaking up the plentiful pleasures of a mountain community in June or hitting the road for vacation.
It’s a wonderful time of year. Which, in turn, can make it a bad time of year to hold primary elections. Perhaps an inability to muster the motivation to follow them with everything else there is to do is one reason Summit County’s turnout in primaries has traditionally been meager. In 2016, for instance, only about 24 percent of registered voters submitted ballots.
The prospect of besting that mark this year seems tenuous. On top of the summer timing of the primary, it’s a midterm election year without even a single contested County Courthouse race, much less a contested primary.
Still, there’s little excuse for such a poor turnout.
Participating in primary elections is as much a part of our civic duty as voting in November. And since the number of voters in each race is smaller than in a general election — the lower turnout, combined with the voting pool being limited by party affiliation (though unaffiliated voters can vote in Democratic primaries) — a single primary ballot has outsized power to sway the results. People who abdicate their responsibility are simply giving more influence to those who don’t.
Even without county positions on the ballot, there’s plenty at stake this summer. Republican voters will decide between Mitt Romney and Mike Kennedy for a U.S. Senate nomination, and will choose among Jack Rubin, Ronald Winterton and Brian Gorum for the nod in state Senate District 26. On the Democratic side, the 1st Congressional District nomination is up for grabs between Kurt Weiland and Lee Castillo, alongside the state Senate District 26 contest between Pat Vaughn and Eileen Gallagher.
In an era of information, when media coverage of the candidates, as well as literature disseminated by their own campaigns, is available at the swipe of a fingertip on a touch screen, it’s easier than ever to become informed about the races. And given that ballots are mailed to voters, allowing them to make their selections in the comfort of their homes, there’s no reason not to cast a vote.
True, primary elections aren’t what comes to mind when you think of summer in a mountain community, not with trails and parks and outdoor patios beckoning residents. But come November, what voters do in June will make a big difference.
The primary election will be held Tuesday, but voters in Summit County must return their mail-in ballots postmarked no later than Monday to the county clerk’s office. A list of in-person drop-box locations and voting assistance centers is available on the county clerk’s website, http://www.co.summit.ut.us/281/Voter-Registration-Elections.
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Our view: Pushing to protect watersheds in the Uinta Mountains would cost Summit County time and resources. But it can’t afford to do nothing.