Summit County voters must pick a party now to participate in primary
If you have been hitting the mute button on all of the incessant election coverage, thinking your part in the process is still months away, you are wrong.
Summit County residents have several key decisions to make during the June primary that will determine whose names will appear on November’s Election Day ballot. But, to ensure you are eligible to vote in those hotly contested partisan races there is some important homework to be done — pronto.
First, make sure you are registered and second choose a party ballot. Since the ballots will be mailed a month prior to the June 28 primary, these details need to be ironed out before May 30.
All of the county’s registered voters should have received letters in the mail this week outlining the county’s new mail-in voting process. If you did not receive one, it may be because you recently moved or haven’t voted in a while and need to re-register. Go online to vote.utah.gov or call the county clerk, 435-336-3203 as soon as possible to get that straightened out.
Also, as part of the registration process, you will be given the opportunity to affiliate with either the Democratic or Republican Party. Currently, in Summit County, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost two to one. But, by far, most Summit County voters choose to keep their political options open. This year, though, if you are one of the county’s 11,610 unaffiliated voters and you neglect to request a specific party ballot in advance, you will not be eligible to vote in the partisan primaries. The ballot you receive in May will only list your school district precinct’s board of education race, if it is contested.
That means many local voters will not be able to chime in on the controversial battle over who will be the Republican nominee for governor –the incumbent Gary Herbert, or his challenger Jonathan Johnson. And they won’t have a say in the Republican contest between the incumbent Dist. 53 Representative Mel Brown and newcomer Logan Wilde. Because the Republican primary is limited to party members, those who have bones to pick in those races need to sign up as a registered Republicans.
On the other side, of the ticket, those who want a say in the race for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican U.S. Senator Mike Lee, — candidates Misty Snow or Jonathan Swinton — must ask in advance for a Democratic ballot.
It is important to note, neither alliance is binding in the November race, and voters can undo their affiliations with a click of the mouse after the primary. Also, in November, all voters, regardless of party affiliation, will receive complete ballots with all of the candidates, from all parties including Libertarian, Green and Independent.
In fact, some voters might want to exercise some political hijinks of their own by choosing the opposing ticket in order to vote for the candidate that will offer less competition for the candidate they really want in November, or the one they can live with if their true favorite loses.
But remember, a voter may only participate in one party’s primary.
Yes, it’s complicated and, due to the brand new mail-in balloting system, voters won’t be able to march up to the voting booth on Election Day and make a zero-hour decision. But that’s OK, too. Some decisions, like who we will entrust with our future, are worth a little more thought and effort.
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