Every election year a political reporter is expected to write a "Let's get out and vote" story.
Here's mine.First off, Utahns are the pride of the nation on election day. Utah traditionally leads the nation in voter turnout. During presidential election years, like this one, as many as three-fourths of Utahns vote.
That may not be a good percentage when compared to some European democracies. But for the U.S., it's tops. That doesn't mean, however, we can't do better.
As is the case every election year, the politicians and press talk about how important the decision is. And how important each person's vote is. In Utah, that's especially true in several races.
Democrat Ted Wilson is still ahead in the three-way governor's race, but his support is slipping and the contest may end up very close. The attorney general's race is close, as is the Jim Hansen-Gunn McKay race in the 1st Congressional District.
But it's the tax-cutting initiatives issue where votes may count as never before.
Of the three initiatives, Initiative A - the property tax cut - has the greatest chance to succeed, polls show. The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows 46 percent of those questioned favor the initiative, 44 percent oppose it and 10 percent don't know.
The initiative would cap residential property taxes at 0.75 percent of fair market value, all other property at 1 percent and limit state and local government growth. It would trim between $80 million and $180 million from school district and local government revenues, depending on whose numbers you believe.
Now, the initiatives, if approved, are just laws. And like any other laws, they could be changed, or even repealed, by the Legislature. Thus, unlike an elected office race where the man or woman who wins is sworn in and that's the end of it, the initiative question may not be permanently settled on election day.
Should one of the initiatives be approved by voters, how much of a majority it carries, and where those majorities come from, could well determine whether the initiative actually takes effect.
Independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook - who supports the initiatives - has already said Initiative A goes too far too quickly in cutting educational funding. If he's elected governor, Cook said he'll suggest a "modification" in the new law - meaning he wants less of a tax cut.
Wilson and Gov. Norm Bangerter say if any of the initiatives pass, they wouldn't dare mess with the will of the people. They'd impose the complete tax cut, and believe citizens would soon be at their Capitol Hill door demanding that services cut by the lost revenues be restored. Since Wilson and Bangerter oppose the initiatives, that's the best way to play the game now.
But in reality, whoever is the new governor will be studying the vote closely on any approved initiative.
For example, let's assume that Initiative A wins by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. In such a close victory, there would undoubtedly be House and Senate districts whose voters didn't approve the initiative.
Legislators from those districts won't see it as a mandate from their constituents to support the just-approved initiative. Just the opposite. Their people voted against the initiative, and so the legislator may well support changes or repeal of the tax cut.
Overall, the initiative may pass. But it could end up that half or even a majority of the newly-elected House and Senate members could come from districts where the initiative failed.
In every election, some House seats are decided by 100 votes or less. Thus, it's reasonable to assume that the initiative vote could be that close, or closer.
In such a close race, each vote is important. If an initiative passed or failed by, say, 100 votes in a House district, and the incumbent House member - who voted for the tax hikes in 1986 - is re-elected in the same district, he may feel free to vote for a change or repeal of the initiative.
In the tax initiative race - as well as the governor's race, legislative races and other close contests - your vote counts a great deal. Use it.