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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

What Does Hosting The Vice Presidential Debate Mean For Utah?

A photo of Kingsbury Hall.
The University of Utah
The vice presidential debate is scheduled to be held at the University of Utah Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The vice presidential debate starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Hosting a debate gives the city and the university national visibility, but this year it’s even more significant because of both presidential candidates’ potential health problems and the ongoing pandemic.

President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has put more campaigning on Vice President Mike Pence’s shoulders, said David Magleby, a political science professor emeritus at Brigham Young University.

“Pence will be carrying the banner for the Trump/Pence ticket into Salt Lake City on Wednesday night,” he said.

While Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be in good health, both he and Trump are in their 70s.

“What we're learning day by day as this crazy pandemic unfolds is that people over the age of 60 or 65 are much more at risk,” Magleby said. “So there's a real concern about whether either of these nominees will be able to complete a term.”

If they can’t, the vice president would be next in line, which makes evaluating the candidates more important than normal, he said.

Bountiful resident Maggie Carli said she’s excited and honored that her state, which has voted for Republican presidential candidates every election since the 1960s, is getting some of the national spotlight for a change.

“Democrats typically ignore us and Republicans typically take us for granted,” Carli said. “I hope that what they see here is that we are worthy of time and attention our communities should be invested in because we do care and our votes are not guaranteed.”

While Utah is a conservative state, South Salt Lake City councilmember Ray deWolfe said he hopes the candidates are able to see that it’s more diverse than many people think.

“Utah, in general, is painted Republican, painted red,” deWolfe said. “And that's not really the case, especially within the county, in Salt Lake City in particular. There's a lot of diverse opinions here and there is a lot of diverse people … so I'd like them to kind of take some time to get to know the city a little bit.”

Election Day is Nov. 3 and the voter registration deadline is Oct. 23. Each registered voter should receive a ballot in the mail, and each county is required to have at least one in-person polling location.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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