The vice presidential debate for the 2020 election will be held in Utah.
The Commission of Presidential Debates announced the debate will take place Oct. 7, 2020. The University of Utah will host the debate at Kingsbury Hall in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium.
The U. hosted a press conference Oct. 11 at Kingsbury Hall to highlight the announcement. Among those in attendance included U. President Ruth Watkins, Gov. Gary Herbert and Thomas Wright, co-chair of the Utah Debate Commission.
“It is a tremendous honor to host a vice presidential debate, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase our university and our state,” Watkins said during the conference. “I am excited for our students to be able to participate in this important component of the political process. It will be an incredible educational experience for them. Civic engagement is a core value of our democracy and students will be able to see firsthand how being involved in the political process matters.”
Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert also spoke at the press conference, expressing gratitude to the Presidential Debate Commission for choosing Utah.
“I’m hoping that we see, from this, an increase in civic engagement,” Hemmert said. “Debates are a critical component of the democratic process and it’s an opportunity for our students, or anyone, to come firsthand [and see] our election process in action.”
Utah will be the only Western state to host a debate before the 2020 presidential election. The debate will be broadcast to millions across the country.
According to the Utah Debate Commission, the Utah legislature approved $2.5 million to partially cover the costs of the debate. In partnership with the university, additional funds were raised to cover remaining costs.
“It’s Utah’s time again to be on [the] national stage,” Wright said. “We’re thrilled about that because we have a lot to add and a lot to share, and other states and places around the world could learn a lot from Utah.”
Not only are state officials thrilled to have Utah on a national platform, students of Utah’s colleges and universities will be able to experience the political process in their own state, allowing students and residents to take a more active role in civic engagement.
The first presidential debate is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2020, at the University of Notre Dame. Following the vice presidential debate in Utah, the remaining presidential debates will be Oct. 15, 2020, at the University of Michigan, and Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Tennessee.