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Embarrassingly Low

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Utah's voter turnout during last November's national election, as reported recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, was embarrassingly low. In fact, other than Hawaii, the Beehive state had the lowest turnout in the nation. Barely half of Utah's eligible voters cast ballots.

It hasn't always been the case. There was a time when Utahns took pride in having the highest voter turnout during presidential election years. During the 1960's, for example, voter turnout consistently approached 80-percent. Since a 77-percent turnout in 1968, however, the decline has been steady.

Experts offer a variety of reasons, but the one that makes the most sense to KSL is the demise of a viable two-party system in Utah. Competition energizes voters. The lack of it, in our view, breeds apathy, if not outright frustration and a feeling that one's vote simply doesn't mean much.

In our view, the minority Democratic Party in Utah is as much to blame for its inability to attract broad support as is the GOP for its skill at reinforcing its political dominance.

Until Utah's political pendulum swings back into balance, don't expect to see high numbers of Utahns flocking to the polls. Unless there is a hot-button issue, voter turnout for partisan elections will likely continue to be embarrassingly low.

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