DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Women in Utah need to get the vote out, says advocate

Nov 2, 2021, 4:18 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 11:38 am

Utah women vote...

FILE: A replica of the statue honoring Martha Hughes Cannon. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has led the nation in voting rights for women, but their participation at the polls has fallen recently. Each female voter in the state needs to know their individual vote matters, said a Utah advocate for women.

The historic disparities are unavoidable:

  • First in the nation to vote (in 1870), Utah women voted in municipal elections and a general election.
  • On Nov. 3, 1896, Utahn Martha Hughes Cannon became the first female state senator elected in the United States, defeating her own husband who was also on the ballot.
  • With a 66.6% female voter turnout, Utah slipped to 33rd among states in 2020 for the percentage of eligible women who voted.

Robbyn Scribner of the Utah Women & Leadership Project joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega to talk about why female voter turnout in Utah has recently declined.

“In 2006, we were dead last in the nation in terms of (women in Utah) voting. And so we’ve been slowly making progress, but we’re still behind the national average significantly. … in the bottom half of all the states in terms of women voting,” Scribner said.

“What leads to that?” Dave asked, “. . . have you been able to figure out what has caused women to disengage with voting?”

No one knows for sure, she said, but researchers and scholars hypothesize that the state’s one-party sway may reduce overall voter turnout.

One vote can make a difference

She also said Utah women are busy and may not appreciate that a single vote can have a real impact.

“That’s one of the things we can work on — get the word out to help people understand that in so many of these races, every single vote counts, and it’s important for all of us to get out there and do our part,” Scribner said.

In 2018, female voter turnout in Utah was “sky high” because of both races and issues that were important to women.

“We went all the way up to number 11th in the nation [in female voter participation],” Scribner said.

Men and women care about different issues and policies

“Women tend to care about social issues, like homelessness and education and health care,” she said.

If women don’t turn out to vote, those types of issues will not be prioritized, Scribner said.

Related: Rate of voting for Utah women down, but civic engagement remains high

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Women in Utah need to get the vote out, says advocate