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With mail-in ballots arriving in our homes any day now, it’s time to start making 2018 election decisions.

With mail-in ballots arriving in our homes any day now, it’s time to start making 2018 election decisions. It is both exciting and a great privilege to choose our local, state and national officials who will lead us for the next few years.

Voting is our most basic civic duty. If we educate ourselves about the candidates and issues, and then vote, we collectively control our own destiny. If we don’t vote, we have forfeited a great opportunity and responsibility, and we have no justification to criticize our politicians or government.

In Utah, we face an especially exciting election, because in addition to important candidate races, some very weighty proposals have been placed on the ballot for voters to decide. This is an exercise in direct democracy, with all of us having the opportunity to enact laws that will have a big impact on our state.

Here’s what’s at stake on Nov. 6, just 25 days away:

  • Four congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat that will help determine the direction of our country, our state’s relationship with the federal government, federal land and national parks policy, federal regulations, laws and taxes, federal judicial appointments, immigration policy, foreign policy and national security policy. Our national representatives have a great deal of responsibility.
  • 79 Utah House of Representatives seats and 15 State Senate seats. Those we elect will make state laws that determine the direction of our state, our taxes, our education policies and much more.
  • A constitutional amendment allowing the Legislature to call itself into special session, and two technical amendments dealing with property tax exemptions.
  • A nonbinding opinion question on raising the fuel tax to increase funding for local schools.
  • Three far-reaching ballot propositions that will allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes, expand Medicaid insurance coverage to additional low-income Utahns, and create a citizen commission to recommend election district boundaries.
  • Numerous state and local school board seats.
  • Numerous judicial retention elections.
  • County office races in all of Utah’s 29 counties, plus local ballot proposals.

The combined impact of these elections will affect Utah in many ways for many years to come. That’s why it is so important for Utahns to vote.

And with mail-in ballots, it’s easier than ever to vote, even from the comfort of your home. Voting intelligently on the many races takes a bit of research. But for anyone with access to the internet, it’s easy to learn about the candidates and the ballot proposals.

After you get your ballot, review the candidates and the ballot measures. Then do quick internet searches for the candidates and look at their websites and newspaper stories about debates and issues they have addressed. Some civic group websites provide candidate responses to questions posed to them.

To learn about the ballot questions and proposals, go to elections.utah.gov. There you can register to vote, locate your voting district, request a ballot application, view your ballot and elected officials. Click on “Election Information” and you will find impartial analyses and arguments for and against the statewide ballot questions. More information is also available at vote.utah.gov.

For information about county races, local school board races and local ballot proposals, navigate to your county government website and click on election information.

5 comments on this story

On a personal note, I hope Utahns will vote in favor of Nonbinding Opinion Question 1. A favorable vote will send a message to the Legislature that more funding is needed to retain teachers and support our local schools. Our young people need excellent education to prepare them for good jobs in our fast-changing world.

I have great faith in the people of Utah. If large numbers of people research the issues, get engaged and vote, we’ll get the government we deserve. Don’t leave it up to the activists or special-interest groups. Let’s all exercise our civic duty and vote on Nov. 6.