Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We're no longer last in voter turnout.


Despite regular encouragement by local civic and religious leaders, Utah suffered the second-worst voter turnout in the nation in last November's election, according to estimates released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It estimated, based on surveys, that only 53.1 percent of U.S. citizens in Utah age 18 or older voted in that presidential election, even though the election also featured a Utah governor's contest, and legislative, county and school board races on the November ballot.

Nationally, 63.6 percent of eligible Americans participated in the election.

"That's so unfortunate," said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen about Utah's poor showing. "I think that so many Utahns believe the presidential election is a foregone conclusion. And the Legislature has made it more inconvenient to register to vote."

Only Hawaii had lower turnout as only 51.8 percent of its eligible citizens voted. Minnesota had the nation's highest voter turnout at 75 percent.

But Utah's poor showing was still sort of an improvement over the midterm races in 2006, when Utah finished dead last in the nation with only 36.7 percent of citizens voting. (Turnout is always much higher in presidential election years.)

Maybe we get the Legislature we deserve here in Utah.

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