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Why don't more Utahns vote? The House decided Wednesday it isn't worth spending $109,000 to try to find out.
It voted 30-42 to defeat HB200, which proposed creating a task force to study why Utahns have a low voter turnout, and how it could be improved. Its cost was estimated at $109,000.
"In 1968, Utah had the highest voting turnout in the nation at 78 percent," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, sponsor of the bill.
"Now we're among the lowest. In 2014, 29 percent 29 percent of the voting-age population cast a ballot," she said. "That is the lowest turnout in Utah in 54 years."
Arent said many people have theories about the causes, but no one is really sure.
"I've heard it's because we have one-party dominance in the state. That's the case in other states … and they vote at a much higher rate," she said. "I've heard it's because we have races that aren't competitive" but said many competitive races here have lower turnout than non-competitive ones.
"I've heard it's about gerrymandering, but that also takes place in other states and they have high turnout," she said.
Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, said former Gov. Jon Huntsman created a similar task force, and many of its recommendations were adopted but turnout still dropped. "I don't think it's a problem we can solve" with another task force, he said, adding such groups often don't seem to produce results that justify the cost.
Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, said it may make more sense to put the money into teaching Fourth Graders more about civics, so they would grow up to vote.
About Utah's low turnout, Arent said, "How embarrassing. Do we want to keep sliding lower and lower?"
The plan was supported by Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the state's chief elections officer.