Only about 18% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 vote. I think that college students struggle with voting because they don’t know the steps, it seems difficult, and they don’t even know why they should vote or who they should vote for. I’m going to do my best to walk you through each of those steps as well as I can.
How do I vote?
First, you have to get registered to vote. In Utah, you can do this online! The only difficult thing is that you have to vote in the county that your address is in on your drivers licence. If you want to vote where you actually live (for example, my drivers licence has my mom’s address, but that’s all the way in Southern Utah and I want to vote in Salt Lake City) you just have to register to vote in person. You can do that at the County Clerk’s office anytime or you can do this when you vote in-person on November 3rd. All you have to bring is proof of address (which can be the email that HRE sent out with your mailing address) and your government ID (usually a drivers licence). If you don’t have the email housing sent you anymore, you can call the HRE Central Office and ask to be emailed your proof of address.
If you register to vote before October 23, you can get a mail-in ballot. That means, your ballot will be sent to your address and you can fill it out (it takes less than 5 minutes) and put it in an outbound mailbox. Last year, I picked up my ballot from the PHC, filled it out, and put it in the PHC outgoing mail shute. It was super quick and easy, plus it’s free! You must send back your mail-in ballot before election day. Mail-in ballots are dependent upon the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and because of efforts to decrease funds that go to USPS, I suggest sending back your mail-in ballot as soon as you can. Otherwise, your ballot might get to the County Clerk too late to be counted. Another option is to drop your ballot off at a drop box. The Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office has a list of drop boxes so you can find the one closest to you.
If you want to vote in person, you can go to any polling location in Salt Lake and vote that way. We usually have a polling location on campus! This year, it will probably be in the Huntsman Center. It does take longer to vote in person because most locations have long lines. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s preferred that people vote using mail-in ballots. If you do vote in person, make sure you get in line before 8:00 p.m. on November 3!!! Everybody who was in line by 8:00 p.m. that day is guaranteed to be able to vote.
Why should I vote?
We’re the youngest people that can vote. The people that we elect will influence our lives for longer than anybody else. Plus, elections like the one this year only happen once every four years. You get to vote for whoever you think should be president! President Trump has done things this year that have definitely impacted our lives. If you want specific examples, feel free to google what power the President really has. Outside of voting for President, we also get to vote for Utah Governor this year. If Governor Herbert (the current governor) wanted to, he could declare a state-wide mandate to wear masks, plus a bunch of other things. He’s basically the president of Utah. President Trump could also issue a mask mandate for the entire United States! That’s something that directly influences how you live your life. You should vote! Also, when you vote, you also feel pretty good when the person you voted for wins.
Who should I vote for?
I can’t tell you who to vote for. Really, nobody should tell you who to vote for. Instead, I’ll try to tell you who you CAN vote for, and I’ll tell you about a quiz that tells you who you’re most like.
Here are the positions people are running for:
- U.S. President & Vice President
- Utah Governor & Lieutenant Governor
- House of Representatives (Congress)
- Utah has four different Congressmen. If you live on campus, you live in District 2. District 2 is currently represented by Congressman Stewart. You only get to vote for the people who are running to represent your district.
- Utah State Senate
- Just like in Congress, Utah also has a House of Representatives and a Senate. People who are in the State Senate and State House of Representatives (called State Legislators) create state law. They do things like give funding to the University of Utah.
- Utah State House of Representatives
- Sometimes, judges have to go through “retention elections.” This happens when judges have served for one term and the government wants to know if people liked what the judge did. It’s not like the judges are running against anybody. Honestly, judges have little direct impact on your day-to-day life. Most judges win their retention elections.
- School Board Members
- To be honest, I don’t know a ton about the job of school board members. Only some school districts have elections for school board members this year, and that doesn’t include Salt Lake School District.
This is a lot!!! Believe me, I know. It would take forever to learn all about every person running for office. Lucky for us, there’s a nonprofit organization that developed a quiz to help you see which politician you like best. Go to https://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz to take the quiz. The people who make the quiz are nonpartisan, which means the quiz isn’t super biased. Also, you can leave any question blank that you don’t want to answer.
Other things on your ballot
Sometimes, the State Legislature (made up of the State Senate and State House of Representatives) will put “measures” and “propositions” on your ballot. That happens when they want to know what the people think about new laws. To find out what laws will be voted on in this election, visit https://ballotpedia.org/Utah_2020_ballot_measures