Utah is lucky this election season. While a lot of states are struggling to organize the infrastructure to handle people voting by mail in a pandemic, the Beehive State more or less is ready to conduct election business as usual. By now, many people here are used to voting with paper ballots sent to their homes. It has become part of the culture.

That familiarity and lack of controversy is an advantage in troubled times. It also brings with it an enormous sense of responsibility. With many days between when ballots arrived in the mail and today, the final day they may be postmarked or left at a dedicated drop box, there is no excuse for failing to vote.

If you haven’t yet done so, fill out your ballot and submit it appropriately.

It is often said that citizens have a duty to vote. In reality, they have a duty to cast an informed vote. Voting by mail allows people the opportunity to research and make intelligent decisions. 

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Four Republicans vying for nomination in Utah gubernatorial primary election

With other state primaries getting mired in long waiting lines or facing allegations that poor people and minorities are being denied the right to vote, this is an opportunity for Utah to stand tall as an example of how voting can be safe and universally accessible.

The four-person race for the Republican gubernatorial primary has gotten most of the attention this year. Originally, political pundits believed this would be a battle to see which candidate could succeed in getting most of his supporters to cast a ballot. June 30 was seen as vacation season — a time of low turnout and little interest. But COVID-19 changed all that. Many people are afraid to venture out on long vacations. Many voters have plenty of time to stay home and study candidates. Turnout could be high.

Plenty of other races, from the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District to county and state legislative races, will be decided, as well. Each is an important part of self-government. Each has an impact on individuals.

Unlike in years past, candidates this year have not been able to hold traditional rallies, or even to shake hands or kiss babies. Campaigning has consisted of media ads, lots of mailers and occasional debates. Perhaps unwittingly, this has put more attention on issues and less on personalities.

Ironically, the coronavirus pandemic has both forced changes in how campaigns conduct business and also become a focus of campaigns. In the race for governor, debate over how state leaders responded to the virus has taken center stage. 

Utah’s primary election rules can be difficult to understand. Voters today will be deciding which candidates get to represent their parties in November’s general election in races for which more than one member of the same party has qualified for the ballot. The Democratic Party allows anyone to vote in its primaries, while the Republican Party allows only registered party members to vote. 

It’s too late to switch political parties to qualify for a Republican ballot. However, voters who are unaffiliated may register as Republicans even tomorrow if they live in one of seven counties that have drive-up voting locations.

Those rules may seem complicated. But voting is not. Anyone with a ballot and a pen can do it. Anyone with an ounce of motivation can research candidates. Utah, this is your chance to show the rest of the nation how it’s done.