Make your voice heard. Pledge to vote in every election.
In the 2016 presidential election, approximately 138 million Americans turned out to vote: that’s only around 58% of eligible voters. With that many votes being cast it’s easy to think yours alone doesn’t matter, but it does! According to a statement released by Lt. Governor Cox, 1,152,369 Utahns, nearly 58% of eligible Utah voters, cast ballots—ranking us 39th in the country for voter turnout. Because of the way the electoral college operates, often on a winner takes all basis, national elections can come down to a few thousand votes for one candidate or the other, and local elections are often even closer, decided by a margin of only hundreds.
You might wonder why it’s important to vote, especially in a year when voting might seem extra challenging. Let’s take a quick look at why it’s important to vote, how to do it safely, and what to do if you’re ineligible to vote because of your age, your citizenship status, or for any other reason.
The simplest answer is this: because you can. Voting is a right, and one of the best ways to make sure your voice is heard. It’s also a privilege that many around the world don’t have, so voting is an act of freedom, and an important way to exercise your rights.
Why does my vote matter?
Because local elections often come down to a narrow margin, low voter turnout means decisions are made by the voters who show up and don’t necessarily meet the needs of the greatest number of people. In low turnout elections, every vote is statistically more relevant.
When do I vote?
Some type of election, from senate to school board, is held every year. The presidential election is held every four years. This year’s general election is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. In Utah, every active registered voter will be mailed a ballot the week of October 12, 2020. You can send it back via USPS (postage paid envelopes are included) before Election Day or drop it in a ballot drop box any time up until 8 p.m. on Election Day. You’ll find a list of ballot drop box locations here:
How do I register to vote in Utah?
There are four ways to register to vote in Utah.
- Online Registration: Complete the online form at the Online Voter Registration Website. Note that you must have a current Utah Driver’s License or ID Card to register online and to be eligible to vote in an upcoming election must submit your online registration at least seven days in advance.
- Register by Mail: Use the mail-in voter registration form found at Mail-in Voter Registration. To be eligible to vote in an upcoming election after registering using a mail-in voter registration form, you must have your completed registration form postmarked at least 30 days before the election.
- In-Person Registration: In-person registration can be completed at the Salt Lake County Election Division, 2001 South State Street, S1-200, Salt Lake City. You must register in person at least 7 days prior to an election to be eligible to vote in that election.
- Same Day Registration: If you have not previously registered or updated your registration after moving, you may go to an Election Day Vote Center and register and vote at the same time. You will fill out a provisional ballot form, which becomes your voter registration form. You’ll be asked to provide proof of residency and valid identification, then issued a provisional ballot. Your provisional ballot will be counted and added to the election results.
Visit the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Voter Registration FAQ page for more information.
Can I vote in person during the pandemic?
Absolutely! While Utah is ahead of the curve on mail-in voting and recommends it as a safe, effective way to exercise your rights while social distancing, you do have the option of voting in person. Click here for polling locations:
What if I’m not eligible to vote?
You can still participate!
- Be informed. Know what the issues are, do your research so you know where you stand, and be prepared to talk about your opinions and reasons. You can help others be informed before they cast their vote.
- Don’t be afraid to share your opinions! Posts on social media, letters to the editor or in your school paper, even phone calls and conversations over dinner with family and friends can help lead to a deeper understanding of the issues and who or what’s on the ballot that can make a change.
- Get involved! You can support a candidate by joining a phone bank, participating in door-to-door canvassing, or by volunteering at an event; or be part of the process as a whole by giving your time on election day at the polls.
You can participate, support initiatives, and help candidates get elected even if you can’t vote yourself!
By Jessica Gezon, Senior Content Manager with United Way of Salt Lake