Utah County Official: Longer Ballot Meant Longer Lines

Nov 7, 2018, 3:10 PM

PROVO, Utah – Despite mail-in ballots sent to many voters, Utah had record-setting numbers at the polls for midterm elections — along with some very long lines.

Some voters in Utah County waited in line for hours Tuesday to cast their ballots.

Scott Hogensen, the Utah County chief deputy clerk auditor, said the long ballot was a large factor in wait times and lines. In the past, ballots have typically been two pages and 13 inches long.

This election’s ballot was four pages and 18 inches.

Hogensen said  midterms are vote-by-mail elections, and the county clerk sent out approximately 265,000 ballots. However, some people didn’t want to vote that way or didn’t get them in the mail, which resulted in long lines.

Since this was a vote-by-mail election, officials didn’t have the same resources as they would in a regular election. That meant fewer voting machines and smaller voting locations.

A long ballot meant long lines for Utah County voters who chose to show up in person instead of vote by mail.

A long ballot meant long lines for Utah County voters who chose to show up in person instead of vote by mail.

Each voting center in Utah County was equipped with between three and 10 voting machines.

Hogensen said the locations are supplemental during mail-in elections, and they weren’t meant to serve as full polling places.

“They are service centers to help people that have issues with some of their ballots,” he said. “It’s a whole different model that we have now because we’ve gone vote-by-mail.”

Hogensen said approximately 10 percent of the county’s voters showed up at the physical locations. The  enormous ballot with a lot of items took voters longer to read, though.

Hogensen said the clerk’s office will certainly have to make some changes for the 202 elections.

“It kind of seems like maybe the public isn’t quite ready to give up on the idea of having polling places,” Hogensen said.

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Utah County Official: Longer Ballot Meant Longer Lines