Counties in Utah already processing ballots; no votes totaled until polls close

Nov 1, 2022, 6:21 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

FARMINGTON, Utah — Voting for the midterm elections is well underway across the country, and counties in Utah have been processing ballots since early last week.

The vast majority of Utahns now vote by mail. Many have already mailed in ballots or left them in an official ballot drop box. County elections officials start processing ballots as soon as they are received.

“Literally thousands of voters in Davis County have been returning their ballots,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Brian McKenzie.

Their team of around 20 poll workers have been counting ballots for nearly two weeks. When ballots arrive, they are prepped for counting. Poll workers authenticate the envelope to make sure it is a real ballot and make sure the voter is registered.

“We are going to verify the signature on the envelope, and then we’re going to pull that ballot out of the envelope and count that ballot and get it ready for reporting come election night,” McKenzie said.

Ballot processing underway in Davis County on Tuesday, Nov. 1. (Jed Boal/KSL TV) Ballot processing underway in Davis County on Tuesday, Nov. 1. (Jed Boal/KSL TV)
The counting of actual votes is also in progress, but the results of the votes are not totaled or released until the polls close.

“Although it’s in our system and it’s in the computer ready to go, we cannot total and release any numbers until election night after the polls close,” McKenzie said.

Early voting does not mean early results.

“No one can see what that result is until the polls close at 8 p.m., and only then can the number of the votes tabulated be seen,” said Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake County Clerk.

Swensen calls voter turnout disappointing as of Friday, although many ballots will be collected after the weekend.

“We had only seen about 15.9% of the ballots being returned, so that’s pretty low,” she said. “I’m hoping people get more enthused.”

In the last midterm elections, in 2018, Salt Lake County had 82% voter turnout. But there were four initiatives on the ballot that got the voters engaged, Swensen said.

In Davis County, McKenzie said 25% of the ballots have been returned. He expects 65 to 70% turn out once all the ballots are in

“The turnout here in Davis County has been phenomenal,” he said. “People are engaged. They’re excited about the elections.”

Voters have until Monday, Nov. 7 to put their ballot in the mail or in a drop box by Tuesday. But the elections officials encourage everyone to get those ballots in as soon as possible so the results can be included in the election night report.

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Counties in Utah already processing ballots; no votes totaled until polls close