It’s National Voter Registration Week and with six weeks to go until elections, it is time to take a look at what one will see on the ballot come November 6th.
Questions and Propositions
Utah Non-binding Opinion Question 1
Part of a deal brokered between Our Schools Now and the state legislature, this non-binding question polls Utah citizens to measure their support for an increase in gas taxes and state education spending. The text of the question reads:
“To provide additional funding for public education and local roads, should the state increase the state motor and special fuel tax rates by an equivalent of 10 cents per gallon?”
Our Schools Now advocates for the tax raise and states “Through a 10 cent increase in the gas tax, Question 1 would only cost the average Utah driver approximately four dollars per month. This will increase direct classroom funding by more than $100 million to local schools in Utah to put our kids first.” Americans for Prosperity Utah opposes the proposal of Question 1.
Proposition 2 may legalize medical marijuana in Utah. However, it has gained many criticisms, opponents saying that it’s potential legalizations go too far and that it is dangerously close to allowing the recreational use of marijuana. Most notably, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has come out in opposition to the proposition. In a public statement, Elder Jack Gerard, a general authority of the LDS church, said, “The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy.” The libertarian group Libertas and a coalition of doctors and healthcare providers support the Proposition.
Proposition 3 would fully expand Medicaid to low-income families under the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. If passed, the measure would combine $90 million in state income tax revenues with approximately $800 million in federal dollars. The state is awaiting approval for a waiver to allow a partial expansion which would also include work requirements for beneficiaries.
Proposition 4 is aimed at preventing gerrymandering in the state by establishing an electoral commission consisting of members of both major parties and independents. The panel would draw legislative maps based on set guidelines and then present them to the legislature which would choose one of them without amendment. Proponents of Proposition 4 say that the current system allows politicians to choose their voters instead of the other way around. Critics claim that the initiative is aimed at creating a democratic congressional district. Better Boundaries, the group behind the initiative, has repeated that they are nonpartisan and that the end results of the districts do not matter to them and that instead, the process is what needs to be changed.
Utah Constitutional Amendments A, B, and C
Amendments A and B are fairly straightforward. Amendment A extends property tax exemption to out-of-state active service members. Amendment B exempts the government properties from property taxes so that the government does not tax itself. Amendment C would allow the state legislature to call itself into session and is seen as a constitutional power struggle between the governor and the legislature.
Running to replace Senator Orrin Hatch is Republican and former Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney and Democrat Jenny Wilson. Romney is heavily favored to win though he has been pegged by critics as a ‘carpetbagger’ for moving to Utah shortly before running. The most recent poll shows Romney leading Wilson 55 percent to 29 percent.
Congressional District 1
Congressional District 1 pits incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop-R, against Democratic challenger Lee Castillo and United Utah Candidate Eric Eliason, who barely gained enough support in the polls to garner a spot in the Congressional District 1 debate hosted by the Utah Debate Commission on Oct. 17. The most recent poll shows Bishop with 59 percent and Castillo with 22 percent. Rep. Bishop, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, has said that this will be the last time he will run.
Congressional District 2
Congressional District 2 has incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart-R running against Democratic challenger Shireen Ghorbani. The most recent poll has Stewart leading with 45 percent to Ghorbani’s 34 percent. The University of Utah and all on-campus dorms are within the Second Congressional District. The candidates most recently debated last week.
Congressional District 3
Running in the 3rd district is incumbent Rep. John Curtis-R who replaced the vacancy left by Jason Chaffetz and his Democratic challenger James Singer. The latest poll showed Curtis leading 65 percent to 19 percent.
Congressional District 4
By far the most competitive race in the state, District 4, has incumbent Rep. Mia Love-R facing off against Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams-D. The most recent polls have shown Love leading by anywhere from nine to only two percentage points. Both candidates have now released negative attack ads.
State Legislature and Judges
Seats in both the State House and Senate are up for election this year. It is important not to forget to vote for local and state offices as well as congressional candidates and ballot questions. State Judges are also up for retention elections, where if enough people vote to remove a state judge, they are removed. This section of the ballot often goes overlooked and unanswered so please do your research before you fill out your ballot. The Chronicle will be covering more election news including initiatives, congressional races and state and local elections.
To register to vote or for information on which district you are in, visit https://vote.utah.gov/vote.