July 07, 2020

POV: Responsible Democracy

I was listening to a podcast over the holiday weekend that spoke to me. Civics 101 by the New Hampshire Public Radio titled Civic Action: Voting Part 1. In this podcast I learned that the constitutional right to vote apparently isn’t a right at all. [Who knew! Perhaps I am the only one who missed this fact.]

Our constitution leaves voting requirements up to the states. This was such a fascinating thing to wrap my head around especially because Utah has just concluded primary elections which will funnel into the general election in November. As a voter I consider Utah’s laws fairly easy to navigate. And in an unscientific poll of my friends, family and neighbors, they too agree. For example everyone I spoke to understood that if they were registered ‘unaffiliated’ they knew how to participate in the primary election. And they knew this because the County Clerk had sent them a postcard detailing how they could participate. Also, as a state we were nimble and adjusted quickly to the realization of a global pandemic and shifted voting to a Vote by Mail campaign, eliminating long lines and the exposure of COVID-19 while voting.

I focus on this because while SCOTUS ruled this week that Electoral College delegates must vote with the popular vote for President of the United States, there are still instances where voting across the country is being suppressed and it is difficult for people to cast ballots. Utah on the other hand, has figured out a way to expand voting thus making it possible for all who are eligible to vote, to cast their ballot.

With the SCOTUS ruling this week, regardless for whom you cast your Presidential Vote, your vote will count. But imagine for a moment that voting for the office of the United States President wasn’t the lead story.  Imagine it was for a representative who makes policies for your children’s school or the group that assigns minimum wage requirements in your city or county. Imagine if it was a vote for the person who makes property tax decisions or the person who fights to assure that your rights as U.S. citizens are upheld? Imagine if it were a vote for the person who sets election laws or who determines the state’s response in a crisis, pandemic, or emergency.  

If imagining these things made you nod your head, say an “Amen”, or even cry “Yaaaassss!” then you are in luck because ALL of that will be on the ballot in November. The best birthday present we can give our country, in my opinion, is not a fireworks show but a vote in every election – local, state, and federal. Because even if your candidate for President or Governor (here in Utah) did not advance to the General Election in November, your vote matters because it ushers in all the leaders that make the laws and regulations we have to abide by as Utahns and as citizens of this country.

So what to do next? Register to vote is top on the list. Then it’s casting your ballot. But if those things feel a little far away, UNA has your covered. On August 2 we will host, a session about ways you can stay nonpartisan while also empowering your staff, volunteers, and clients to vote.  Then on November 11th (notice that it is after the General Election) our UNA Credential in Advocacy and Civic Engagement will start. Details for these and other events that we are hosting can be found on our training and events calendar on our webpage. Happy voting!

Want more? Listen to Kate Rubalcava read this post.