(KCPW News) Election officials across the country are anticipating record turnout this year because of the historic and highly publicized presidential race. But political scientist Matthew Burbank of the University of Utah says voters shouldn't forget about the local and state issues on the ballot.
"There are many, many issues that affect us locally that the presidency or the federal government don't have a whole lot to do with," Burbank says. "Big important issues like our economy and our tax structure and our schools, those are all things that people say repeatedly that they care about. And yet, for the most part, those are things which are dealt with by the state legislature or their city or county governments."
However, details about these races can be harder to track down. The Salt Lake County voter pamphlet includes descriptions of the candidates for Congress, governor, district attorney, state treasurer and auditor. It also has information on the five constitutional amendments voters will consider this year. But absent from the pamphlet are details on the school board candidates, who make decisions that directly impact classrooms. Burbank says getting this information will take some initiative.
"That's one of the difficulties that people often find themselves in is they simply don't have the time, and in some cases don't have the inclination, to want to gather information in that way," Burbank says. "But again, if you are trying to make an informed decision, there really is no substitution for talking to people who know something about those positions, and know something about those candidates."
But if you find your neighbor across the fence isn't helpful, then Burbank recommends calling the candidates themselves. While details on their platforms aren't in the voter pamphlet, their contact information is. Pamphlets were mailed to registered voters and they're available at public libraries.