Partisanship, Barriers Lower Utah Voter Turnout

Jun 18, 2012

Voter turnout in Utah has dropped dramatically in recent elections, and a new study by the Utah Foundation looks at some of the reasons why.

In the presidential election of 1992, 67% of Utah's registered voters took part, while only about 50% turned out in 2008.  A study by the non-partisan Utah Foundation suggests fewer close races and barriers to voter participation such as the state's closed Republican primary could be among the reasons.  Research director Morgan Lyon Cotti says the strident partisanship of recent years also plays a part.

"This year," Cotti said in an interview with KUER, "when we did our Utah Priorities survey, in which we asked voters what are the most important issues in the upcoming election, they listed partisan politics as one of the top issues.  This is not only interesting because it is a top issue but because this is the fourth time we've done the survey and we've never even seen partisan politics brought up."

The study also shows the number of voters who identify themselves as moderates has also declined to 27-percent in the most recent survey compared to 37-percent eight years ago.  The study is part of the Utah Priorities voter education project.  It's available online at utahpriorities.net.

Utah Foundation research report Partisan Politics, Polarization and Participation

Utah Priorities Project website