ELECTION 2020

Machines Or Paper Ballots? In-Person Voting Varies Along Wasatch Front

Oct 28, 2020, 7:26 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm

LEHI, Utah – Over 660,000 ballots have been processed in Utah as Election Day approaches. But for those wanting to vote in-person, the process varies along the Wasatch Front.

Voters showing up to vote in Davis and Utah counties are being printed replacement ballots while voters in Salt Lake County are using electronic voting machines to cast their ballots.

“They’re going to be given a paper ballot that’s basically the same as their by-mail ballot that they’ve already received,” said state elections director Justin Lee of the counties that aren’t using voting machines. “It won’t look like a normal polling place with machines and ballot booths.”

Davis County Clerk/Auditor Curtis Koch said his county’s drive-through voting locations are basically serving as ballot replacement centers.

“What people need to understand is that if they come to early voting or they come on Election Day and ask for another ballot, we’re printing the same ballot that we mailed to you two weeks ago,” Koch said. “So, there’s no difference.”

Koch said there are ADA compliant voting machines available for those who need assistance. Everyone else — like those who lost their ballots — will be printed a ballot and given an envelope.

“We all know that life happens — maybe your dog ate your ballot,” Koch said. “Maybe your kids thought it was junk mail and threw it in the garbage. It happens. We want to give everyone the opportunity to exercise that right and duty.”

It’s the same scenario in Utah County where voters are also being printed ballots at early voting locations.

“Super easy,” said Saratoga Springs resident Melissa Smith, who got her ballot at the early voting locating at the Megaplex Theater in Thanksgiving Point. “I walked through. They scanned my ID. They printed a ballot. They said go fill it out and drop it off, and you don’t even have to drop it off right now.”

Smith said her main concern was about her signature getting properly verified. She was told by election workers that she would be contacted by the county clerk and given the opportunity to fix any issues with her signature.

“It was much easier than it was voting in 2018,” Smith said. “That line and how it was handled was insane. I mean, I waited in line for three hours.”

For those who don’t want to mail their ballots, or who still want to show up at a polling location on Election Day, Koch encouraged voters to still use the ballot that was mailed to them.

“If you want to have that Election Day experience, if you want to come to the polling location, fill out your ballot,” Koch said. “Put it in the envelope. Sign it. Seal it, and then do the drive and drop.”

“It’s a waste of resources and really of the voter’s time to go to the polling location and expect to get a different ballot,” Lee said. “When they’re really going to be given the same ballot they already got in the mail.”

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Machines Or Paper Ballots? In-Person Voting Varies Along Wasatch Front