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Voter turnout looking good for Utah’s primary election

Jun 26, 2018, 2:31 PM | Updated: 2:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah election officials say voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election is expected to match or exceed past primaries.

“Big races and big names always drive turnout,” said State Elections Director Justin Lee. “With Mitt Romney and Mike Kennedy running for the U.S. Senate race in the Republican primary, that’s certainly driving some turnout, and then vote by mail we’ve seen drives turnout.”

In Salt Lake County, voter turnout was already at 36 percent Tuesday morning, according to county clerk Sherrie Swensen. That number doesn’t take into account the people voting in person at polling locations throughout the day. In 2016’s primary election, Swensen said the county had a turnout of less than 27 percent.

Some voters expressed confusion leading up to the primary election as they wondered why they couldn’t vote for a particular primary contest or didn’t receive a ballot at all.

“It’s one of the number one questions we get in a primary is, ‘Where is my ballot?’” Lee said. “Some voters just won’t have a ballot. They don’t have a race that they are eligible to vote in.”

Before heading to the polls, Lee suggests that would-be voters visit vote.utah.gov and find out if they actually have anything on their ballot, “before trekking down to a polling location and realizing they have no reason to be there.”

It’s too late for voters to return their ballots by mail. Instead, they should drop them off at a polling location. Residents can vote in person and even register to vote at the polls, which will stay open until 8 p.m.

“In order to vote in a Republican primary you have to affiliate with the party,” Swensen said. “The Republican has opted to close their primary and that’s a choice by law that the parties can make.”

Voters can affiliate with the Republican Party at polling locations on Tuesday, but only if they are currently unaffiliated. The deadline has passed to switch affiliations from one political party to another.

After the polls close, Lee says to expect a large batch of election results to be released because of all the mail-in and early voting ballots that have already been counted.

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Voter turnout looking good for Utah’s primary election