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Primary elections are not normally big vote-getters, but unless Utahns get more serious about their citizenship responsibilities, Tuesday's primary may set an all-time low for participation.

Pollsters believe that turnout might be as low as 10 percent statewide, although it may be somewhat higher in areas where a particular race has broader public interest. Having only one in 10 voters cast ballots would be a disgraceful performance.Some excuses are being offered for such a low turnout, including the fact that primary elections traditionally have been held in September. The voting was moved to late June this year to give the winning candidates more time to campaign for the general election. Henceforth, primaries will take place in June.

However, there is nothing inherently more difficult in going to the polls in June instead of September; it takes the same amount of effort either time. And the occasional September primary could hardly have become habit-forming. Yet the fact that a primary election is taking place at all seems to have gone right over the heads of many Utahns.

One reason for the lack of awareness is the relative lack of races involving statewide or major offices.

The only statewide primary contest is the two-man Independent Party race for U.S. Senate. But voters who ask for an Independent Party ballot will have locked themselves into that choice and won't be able to participate in other party primaries, such as those involving Republican and Democratic candidates for congressional, county or legislative runoffs.

The 3rd Congressional District has a GOP primary to see who gets to face Democratic Rep. Bill Orton in November. Republicans also are holding primaries for a whole range of Salt Lake County offices, including a County Commission seat. Two Democratic runoffs are for sheriff and assessor.

Throughout the state there are other county races and a host of primary contests for legislative seats.

That may not seem particularly exciting to many voters, but the truth is that such local races have more to do with the daily lives of Utahns than some of the more glamorous or well-known positions. County commissioners and state legislators can have a bigger, more immediate impact than individual votes being cast in Washington, D.C.

That's just one reason Utahns need to go to the polls Tuesday. If people don't help choose the final candidates for public office, they will hardly be in a position to complain about the outcome or about the subsequent actions of the winners.

Go vote Tuesday and help make a difference. It will only take a few minutes and in the smaller totals usually associated with a primary election, the vote of every individual carries a lot more weight than usual.