Other states have for decades been struggling to get voters to show up on Election Day. Utah, oddly enough, seems to be finding ways to keep them home.
The June primary can now safely be called a rousing failure. The Legislature ought to send it to the trash bin.On Tuesday, an estimated 15 percent of the state's eligible voters bothered to show up. In Salt Lake County the figure was a little better - about 17 percent. An estimated 20 percent showed up in Utah County. The 1994 primary attracted similar percentages.
Compare this to the 1992 primary, the last one held in September. Statewide, 49 percent of the voters cast ballots then.
Granted, that was the year of hotly contested primaries for both a senate seat and the governor's office. But can this year's primaries in both the second and third congressional districts really be considered that much less important?
Three years ago, officials from both major parties urged the Legislature to move the primary election to June. For them, it was a pragmatic matter. Political parties were tired of long primary seasons in which candidates had little choice but to battle against other candidates from their own parties all summer.
But even some party leaders now agree the move has been disastrous. The state has, in effect, designated a handful of voters to make important decisions about who will run in November. These are the voters who aren't on vacation or who happen to be thinking about politics during a time when most Americans have been conditioned to think of baseball and fishing.
The solution? Move the primaries back to September and urge the parties to hold their statewide conventions later. They could meet in early summer and still have plenty of time for delegates to prepare for the national conventions.
Making an aristocracy out of the few who happen to be home in June makes little sense. Lawmakers should have the courage to admit this plan hasn't worked.