Utah residents who are unenamoured with presidential candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have plenty of options to pick someone else on Election Day.
Aside from the two major party candidates, at least a dozen other names will show up on Utah ballots this Nov. 8, according to candidate information posted by the state elections office.
Normally a shoo-in for Republican candidates, Utah has seen more attention as a potential swing state this year after early summer polls showed Clinton and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson running close behind Trump.
More recent polling has shown Trump increasing his lead, including a 15-point advantage in a Public Policy Polling release from last week, but his 39-percent figure in that poll shows significant change for a state that gave Republican Mitt Romney 73 percent of the vote four years ago.
Despite a majority of state political leaders saying they’ll back Trump in order to avoid Clinton, the GOP candidate’s relative lack of popularity has third party and independents hopeful.
The same thinking has Democrats feeling optimistic as well.
Zachary Almaguer, chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said he expects some Republican voters to shy away from Trump, potentially making people consider choices down-ballot that they haven’t traditionally.
In Washington County, nearly half of 2014’s voters (46 percent) voted straight-party ticket, and there were more Republican straight-ticket votes (10,667) than the total number of votes any Democratic candidates were able to garner, according to county election records.
Democrats still face an uphill battle, especially in southwest Utah, but the dynamics of this race, especially with so many third-party and independent candidates available, are very different, Almaguer said.
“I see that as an advantage because that only means more options not to vote for Donald Trump,” he said.
At the same time, Clinton remains deeply unpopular as well, and the Public Policy Polling figures from last week showed her at only 24 percent.
State Republican leaders have been urging voters to get behind Trump, if only to deny Clinton.
Attorney General Sean Reyes, himself facing a reelection challenge from Democrat Jon Harper and Libertarian Andrew McCullough, has been adamantly campaigning for Trump because he says it could prevent a more liberal-minded Supreme Court.
“I get that he’s not the perfect candidate, but you have to ask yourself, in terms of the Supreme Court, in terms of other things that are important to you as a conservative, can you really stomach a Hillary Clinton administration?” Reyes said.
The unpopularity of the two major party candidates also has election officials wondering if voters might stay away from the ballot booth altogether, which could be troubling given Utah’s recent history.
Voter participation has trended downward since the 1970s throughout much of the country, but especially in Utah, which ranked in the nation’s top 10 for turnout as late as the 1980s but now typically ranks near the bottom.
Utah is rarely a swing state, and political observers say the heavy Republican advantage makes some voters feel as if their votes won’t affect the outcome. In addition, Utah is the nation’s youngest state, with a median age of just 29, and younger people tend to vote less than older generations.
However, research indicates that Utah doesn’t fare well even compared to states that face similar demographic challenges.
The state finished second-to-last by number of residents who registered to vote in 2012, and finished third-to-last in voter turnout in 2010. Only Idaho voters contribute less money to political campaigns, per capita.
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Third parties and independents
Utah voters will have at least a dozen presidential candidates to choose from besides Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton this November. An Associated Press compiling of the candidates who have filed so far shows some of the alternatives:
A businessman who served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president and may be best known for his years-long advocacy to legalize marijuana. He was the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2012. His campaign is based in Salt Lake City.
Evan McMullin of Provo is a former congressional staffer and CIA officer who recently jumped into the race as an unaffiliated candidate. He’s only on the ballot in Utah and a few other states but says he’s a conservative who offers an alternative to disaffected voters who don’t want to back Clinton or Trump.
Darrell Castle is a Tennessee attorney who represents the conservative Constitution Party. His anti-abortion stance calls on Congress to remove the Supreme Court’s ability to rule on abortion cases and for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations.
A Wal-Mart employee from Chicago, Alyson Kennedy is a candidate for the Socialist Workers Party and advocates for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Kennedy is a former coal miner who lived in Utah for four years and joined a protest this year in the state against the fatal shooting by Oregon state police of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an Arizona rancher involved in the armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge.
Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee, a role she also held in 2012. Stein is a medical doctor who ran against Mitt Romney in the 2002 race for governor of Massachusetts. Stein is calling for efforts to stop climate change, hydraulic fracturing, offshore drilling and uranium mining. She also wants forgiveness of student debt.
ROQUE DE LA FUENTE
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a real estate developer, is an unaffiliated candidate on Utah’s ballot. In other states, he’s running for president with the American Delta Party and the Reform Party.
He wants all U.S. students to have access to free, online college education.
In Florida, he’s one of five candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.
Monica Moorehead of New York is the Workers World Party candidate for president. She is the managing editor of the left-leaning newspaper Workers World and was also the party’s candidate in 2000 and 1996. Moorhead’s campaign platform calls for the end of capitalism, a stop to deportations of those in the country illegally and affordable housing.
So far, five people have filed as write-in candidates in Utah: Stephen Paul Parks, Emidio Soltysik, Jamin Burton, Cherunda Fox and Laurence Kotlikoff. Write-in candidates have until Sept. 9 to file their declaration.
Author: David DeMille, firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher: The Associated Press
Date: August 27th, 2016