Church Encourages Missionaries to Vote Absentee

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    By Ashton Ward

    The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter Sept. 14 to bishops across the world encouraging families of missionaries who are currently in the field to send them absentee voting materials.

    In Utah, the missionaries” votes could impact a decision about a fourth congressional district for Utah. In 2000, a decision by the U.S. Census Bureau not to include Utah residents serving missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state”s population count was widely cited as a reason Utah lost out to North Carolina in its bid for a fourth seat.

    “I don”t know how much of a direct effect it will have, though obviously the more people that are involved in the election will show [that the people of Utah deserve a fourth congressional seat],” said Charles Isom, spokesperson for Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah.

    Visiting political science professor Christopher Jones said he doubts the letter is directly related to Utah”s bid for another congressional seat.

    “I would think [the purpose of the letter] has more to do with the church”s stand on making an active contribution to the political system,” he said.

    Missionaries that want to vote absentee sometimes can”t find the time and becoming educated enough to vote is difficult in the mission field , said Jason Birkel, a sophomore majoring in exercise science.

    “Missionaries are kind of out of the loop I think,” said John McVey, a sophomore majoring business management, “which is fine; that”s how it”s supposed to be. However, if the First Presidency says that even missionaries out in the field should vote, then I”d go with them. I”d back the First Presidency all the way.”

    The letter instructs priesthood leaders to “encourage families to assist where possible” and to “allow sufficient time for missionaries to receive and return materials before election deadlines.”

    In Utah County, requests for absentee voting materials from overseas must be received by the Utah County office at least 20 days before the election, and ballots must be postmarked no later than the day before the election.

    Instructions on how to register to vote in Utah County can be found at www.co.utah.ut.us.

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