Ballots Here

An old-timey ballot box shows one way that elections have changed over the years. The Moab Museum’s Oct. 6 virtual event “The State of the Vote: Then and Now” will explore other ways elections have evolved, and continue to evolve, in a conversation between Moab Museum contributor Christy Williams Dunton and Carey Dabney, a member of Moab’s local nonpartisan League of Women Voters chapter. [Photo: Moab Museum webpage]

Questions about voting access, election security and electoral politics loom large in public conversation in the run-up to the 2020 election. To understand where we are today, it is often helpful to gain context by looking at where we’ve been – and that is the focus of the Moab Museum’s upcoming virtual event, “The State of the Vote: Then and Now.”

The Oct. 6 event is part of the Moab Museum’s Tuesdays with the Museum series. It will be held on Zoom and simultaneously broadcast on Facebook Live, and recordings of the presentations will be available on the museum’s website. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed via the Moab Museum’s webpage and Facebook page.

The event will feature a conversation between Moab Museum contributor Christy Williams Dunton and Carey Dabney, a member of Moab’s local nonpartisan League of Women Voters chapter.

Discussion topics will include the history of voting rights in Utah and the United States and the role of the League of Women Voters in extending suffrage to women and minorities.

The discussion is particularly timely: 2020 is the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. 2020 is also the 150th anniversary of the first time women in Utah voted in a federal election.

Dabney said she plans to talk about “Utah's unusual story about how women were allowed to vote 150 years ago, followed by the loss of that right, and then getting the right back as part of the national effort to pass the 19th Amendment.”

Other things Dunton and Dabney will touch on include efforts of the LWV to educate women about the responsibilities that come with suffrage, the history of minority voting rights and efforts in Utah today to ensure access to the vote.

“Utah helped lead the nation in advocating for women’s voting rights,” Dunton said, “but even so, it wasn’t until recent history when Native voting rights became a reality.”

There will also be information and discussion on LWV efforts around the anti-gerrymandering initiative known as Prop 4, and Ranked Choice Voting, an electoral system that allows people to vote for multiple candidates in order of preference, as well as efforts to abolish the Electoral College and implement a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. There will also be resources to learn more on each of these topics.

Audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions of Dunton and Dabney.

Dunton said she hopes that audience members come away from the event with a greater sense of agency and empowerment.

“I hope people get from it the agency that Utahns have shown to take their destiny into their own hands and in this way ...impacted the nation over time,” she said. “The most important thing is: we have power as a voting populace.”

And, Dunton added, she hopes audience members will be motivated to action, especially when it comes to casting a ballot.

“They should vote,” she said.