Record editorial: Voters showed up, and now they must remain engaged
Summit County residents should be proud.
The election results in the county were finalized Tuesday, after the inclusion of one final batch of outstanding ballots, making official what we’ve known since the first returns on Election Day: Residents made their voices heard like never before in a midterm election.
In total, a stunning 80.53 percent of registered voters in Summit County cast ballots. That dwarfs participation levels in the 2014 and 2010 midterms, which saw turnout hover below 50 percent. It nearly matches the record turnout of 87.55 percent in the 2016 presidential election. And it comes despite a lack of contested County Courthouse races, which are typically some of the most closely watched contests during midterms.
One can chalk up the record participation to a number of reasons. Though Donald Trump’s name wasn’t on the ballot, his presidency motivated folks, both supporters and opponents, to show up to the polls. Likewise, residents were eager to have their say on the Treasure ballot measure and three statewide propositions — particularly Prop 2, which addressed medical marijuana. The vote-by-mail system certainly helped, too.
Regardless of what was behind the increased turnout, everyone in Summit County who mailed in or dropped off a ballot, or stood in line on Election Day, deserves a round of applause.
The important thing now will be maintaining that momentum, both locally and throughout the state, where other counties also saw an unusually high number of voters. Too often in the past, people in Utah have been content to sit on the sidelines during elections. Hopefully this election, which saw Utah voters approve things like the legalization of medical marijuana, an independent redistricting commission and Medicaid expansion, proved that actively participating in the political process can make a difference.
But just because the election is over doesn’t mean we’ve completely fulfilled our civic duty. Casting a ballot is only part of the equation, and it’s incumbent upon everyone who voted to remain engaged in politics. Over the next two years, we must hold the people we’ve elected to represent us in state and federal government to a high standard — and voice our opinions on the important issues of the day.
Then, in 2020, we’ll head back to the polls and render verdicts on the jobs our elected officials have done and whatever other matters are on the ballot. And we’ll, hopefully, build on the enthusiasm from this election and do it once again in record numbers.
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