Editorial: We Can Make a Difference This Fall Despite a Discouraging Election


(Design by David Onwukeme and Taylor Maguire | Daily Utah Chronicle)


This election cycle has been exhausting to say the least. The nation is deeply polarized and many of us despise Trump but are disappointed that Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee. Voter suppression is rampant thanks to inaccessible voting methods, discriminatory legislation and Donald Trump’s fear-mongering around mail-in ballots during a pandemic — and the electoral college makes it hard to feel like our voices will matter during the presidential election. Thankfully, local elections and volunteer opportunities can help us reignite our enthusiasm for electoral participation and make a meaningful difference in our community.

Many college students lack enthusiasm for the presidential election, but the fight for representation and change is not limited to that one race. During the Utah legislature’s 2020 General Session, over 800 bills were proposed and more than 500 of them passed, impacting issues from air quality to reproductive justice. Down-ballot races are less sexy than presidential campaigns, but the decisions of our state and local elected officials will have direct and lasting effects — and there are plenty of great candidates worthy of our excitement.

Angela Romero, the incumbent legislator for Utah House District 26, has been a vocal advocate for historically marginalized Utahns from fighting to process Utah’s rape kit backlog to establishing a task force to protect Native women, girls and LGBTQ+ people in Utah. Jennifer Dailey-Provost represents many U students as the incumbent representative of Utah House District 24. Despite being relatively new to the legislature, Dailey-Provost is not afraid to take action and call out her colleagues, whether that means offering a platform for the public’s frustrations or sponsoring legislation to protect her constituents’ reproductive rights. Ben McAdams, the congressman for Utah’s fourth district, sponsors bills to improve Utah’s air quality and research suicide prevention. He has championed COVID-19 relief, from paycheck protection to child care expansion — and he won his first election by less than a thousand votes.

Because our votes make such a big difference at the state and local level, it’s particularly important that we look to details like these, not simply candidates’ party registration, to make these choices. We need to do our homework on candidates, judges and amendments so we can vote in our community’s best interest. This task may seem daunting, but there are plenty of tools to support the research process. Ballotpedia’s sample ballot lookup will pull up the list of candidates that will be on your ballot and provide profiles with information about their policy positions. Action Utah’s Know Your Vote project offers unedited survey responses from local candidates. The Vote Smart database keeps track of thousands of politicians’ voting records, public statements and campaign finances.

It’s also important to note that we can and should serve the community in addition to voting. Historically, polling locations have been operated by senior-aged volunteers, but their vulnerability to COVID-19 will limit their participation this year. Districts all over the nation have struggled to recruit more poll workers due to impending shortages. Young people facing a lower risk have an opportunity to fill this essential role. We can also volunteer as poll watchers to protect voters from on-site disenfranchisement, organize for campaigns, share voting information on social media and reach out to our friends and family to encourage them to register and vote.

This work may seem inconsequential, but our contributions can help this messy election go more smoothly and amplify voices that are often not heard in this process. Likewise, our votes in state and local elections can make a real difference in how our communities operate, and turning our attention to these races can help us tap into the enthusiasm we might otherwise be missing this fall. If our generation can muster the will and the optimism to engage in this election cycle, we can change the trajectory of our campus, our city and our state as well as the nation.


The Daily Utah Chronicle Editorial Board is a group of senior opinion journalists who rely on research and debate to write staff editorials. Editorials represent the majority view of the editorial board and are written separate from the newsroom.