Legislature ignores people’s voice


With regard to the new Ethics Commission being established for Utah’s state government (“Miller to lead ethics commission,” Jan. 26), having an ethics commission is never a bad idea anywhere. Indeed, it is yet another good idea from our current governor.

However, I doubt that it will do much to solve the problem of “voter apathy” in the state of Utah. I believe the political apathy here stems from two main causes.

First of all, the party-line vote here is so lopsided and so cast in stone that people feel, on the one hand, “Why bother, let the other Republicans go out and vote,” and on the other hand, if voters are Democrats or Independents, they feel their votes are pointless because they are so outnumbered. It hasn’t always been so, and it could change in the future, but for the present, it looks pretty stuck.

Second, the state government tends never to listen to people. Year after year, polls are conducted asking the public how they feel on a variety of issues. Time after time, the Legislature passes laws conflicting with the public’s wishes.

I suppose the majority in the Legislature feel they know what is best or assume that the public is too stupid or ill-informed to be qualified to weigh in.

One of the most flagrant examples in recent times was the school voucher debacle. The Legislature paid no attention to the public will and passed a voucher law. They then tried every angle to make it nearly impossible for a ballot initiative to overturn this law. Nevertheless, there was enough public participation in that case to register disagreement with the Legislature.

There isn’t enough political energy in this state8212;or probably any other state8212;to carry on such a battle over every issue the public disagrees with the Legislature about. A simple matter of government responsiveness to the public could make a great difference.

Although I myself have voted in virtually every election since I was old enough to vote and have worked in numerous elections, I understand that people have busy lives and lots of concerns. If people feel that voting is an empty exercise, many of them just won’t vote.

Martha Klein,
Assistant Thesis Editor,
Graduate School