Summertime municipal primaries are a tough sell
Who thinks about going to the polls in August? Not many. Voting goes with the falling leaves of autumn, frosty mornings in October and the first snows of winter in early November. Go to a stuffy ballot booth in August No way.
But that is exactly what the state legislature has mandated for this year’s municipal primary election and we are worried that very few voters will turn out.
Early voting for the primary contests in Coalville and Park City begins this coming Tuesday. The primary itself takes place Tuesday, Aug. 13.
In Coalville there is a bumper crop of candidates for mayor. Six citizens filed to run for the post being vacated by Duane Schmidt. The primary will reduce the field to two candidates. The good news is that every vote will carry a lot of weight. The bad news is that the handful of residents may essentially decide the race for the whole electorate.
That is not the way a representative democracy is supposed to work, but we understand that a lot of voters may be out of town or just not paying attention to politics in the midst of a busy summer.
In Park City, six people are vying for two seats on the Park City Council, but only four can be included on the November ballot. If prior primaries are any indication less than 20 percent of the electorate is likely to show up.
Let’s do the math.
In the 2009 Park City mayoral primary only 855 of a possible 5,212 votes were cast. That’s means about 16 percent of the city’s registered voters turned out. If a similar number show up for the coming primary and their votes are divided among six candidates, the margin for winning may come down to just a couple of votes. And, if only 16 percent of Coalville’s voters show up for their mayoral primary, 123 people will have a lot of political clout.
Think about it this way. Researching candidates for city council or the mayor’s post may not be as appealing as going for a bike ride or taking a swim at the lake, but if you do take the time, you may be the one to cast the deciding ballot — and that could change the course of history, in your town, at least.
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A member of the Park City Leadership class writes in a guest editorial that residents only have a few more days to participate in the all-important census.