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Why do local government elections matter?

"I voted" stickers scattered on a white surface.
Element5 Digital

Election Day is around the corner. Learn about upcoming local elections around the state and what impact local government has.

This election year, apart from the 2nd Congressional District special election, most of the elections happening around Utah are local city council elections. But what impact do the local city governments have? And why should people care and vote in these elections?

Damon Cann, the political science department head at Utah State University, said that when people wake up they use water to shower or flush the toilet. They most likely travel to work or school by driving on a road. All of these things are decided and regulated by the city government.

“Your city government touched you in the first hours of any given day in very important and significant ways without you even thinking about it, the provision of water, sewer and garbage,” Cann said.

There are other things many people commonly interact with and use that are controlled by the local government. These include bike trails, public buses and sidewalks.

City councils also determine zoning and permits deciding what can be built where, and how many people can live in certain areas and buildings.

“We’re trained and taught in our education system to be very focused on the federal government because the things they do are big, but we often just don't give much thought to local government. Local government is often the most consequential level of government that we interact with on a day in and day out basis,” Cann said.

Cann added one excuse people commonly use to not vote in local government is that they’re not yet registered to vote in that area. He said this excuse isn’t as valid anymore because of developments made to make registering to vote easier, including same-day registration options.

For more information on the individual elections happening around the state this election year, including information on vote registration and how to vote in individual local elections, visit

Caitlin Keith is a general news reporter at UPR. She is from Lindon, Utah and is currently an undergrad student studying print journalism at USU. Caitlin loves to write and tell people’s stories. She is also a writer at the Utah Statesman. She loves to read, ski, play the cello and watch various TV shows.