Primary elections often decided by a handful of votes

WASHINGTON COUNTY – On Tuesday, municipal primary elections will be held throughout the state of Utah. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

While primary elections do not determine who will become the next mayor or city council representative, they are important because they decide who gets to be on the ballot in November. Candidates who fail to win enough votes in the primary election are eliminated from the running before the race even begins.

Voters rarely turn out in great numbers for municipal primaries. In the last St. George primary, for example, only 12 percent of eligible voters made it out to cast ballots. However, because so few people typically vote in these races, they are often won or lost by only a handful of votes.

In the 2011 primaries, many candidates could count on their fingers the number of votes that kept them from winning. Sam Laub lost his bid to run for St. George City Council by only eight votes. In the Ivins city council race, only two votes separated Tim Bryan, who went on to run in the general election, and Lorrie Webster, who was eliminated in the primary. Herb Basso won a seat on Santa Clara’s city council in the 2011 general election by only six votes.

“It’s very likely that a very few votes will make the difference in who goes on to ‘live another day’ and who is finished for this election cycle,” St. George City Councilman and mayoral candidate, Jon Pike said.

For Pike, local elections are no less important than state and national races. “Local government is literally where the rubber meets the road,” he said, “it’s the level of government that affects us on a daily basis.”

St. George city council candidate Michele Randall said she asks voters to take the time to learn about the candidates and the issues before casting a ballot.

“What is most important is that voters know the candidates and what impact each will generally have on the city’s future,” Randall said. Participating in the process means more than simply casting a ballot, she said. “Full participation matters, not just a vote once or twice an election year.”

Tara Dunn, another candidate in the St. George city council race, said she urges all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote this election.

“Your vote is your voice,” Dunn said, “stand up and be heard!”

To vote in Utah, you need to present your drivers license or valid state identification card to cast a ballot, however other forms of ID are accepted. If you are turned away at the polling place for any reason, remember that you have the right to request to fill out a provisional ballot, even if you do not have any identification.

You can find a full list of acceptable identification, along with more information about your rights as a voter in the state of Utah by following this link: UT Voter ID and Process on ID challenge.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @mflynnSTGN

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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