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Data shows most Utah County voters didn’t mail ballots; turnout rates differed slightly

Jun 26, 2024, 6:15 PM | Updated: 8:26 pm

PROVO — Amidst the aftermath of the Tuesday night primary elections, a spotlight has been on Utah County due to the recent decision to cease paying for return postage on mail in ballots.

The county faced controversy after the decision was made in January, sparking debate over whether it would suppress voters in upcoming elections.

Both sides of the postage stamp debate thought the decision would have a much larger impact on voter turnout, but projections show it’s a little less than 2 percentage points higher than the last primary election.

Still, Utah County Clerk Aaron Davidson considers it a win.

“It was a success for as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Utah County Clerk Aaron Davidson speaking about how he felt that voting in the county still did well after the recent mail in ballot change.

Utah County Clerk Aaron Davidson spoke about how he felt that voting in the county still did well after the recent mail-in ballot change on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, the day after Utah’s primary election. (KSL TV)

The percentage of voter turnout that Davidson said he believes will come from this primary election is 39%. He said that the rate has taken longer to calculate due to more voters showing up in person at the last second.

“So, we had over 30 (thousand), 36,000 people drop off their ballots yesterday,” he said, “and we had over 3,000 [people] that came to the voting booths.”

He said the decision to no longer pay for postage has helped the election process rather than stunt it.

“It’s been a tremendous outcome.”

Historically, voter turnout rates have been similar in Utah County. The 2022 primaries had a 37% turnout rate.

The biggest difference with this election, he said, “our dropbox usage went from about 60% to 80%. So, that is the exact response that I was hoping for.”

County clerks hope for last-minute turnout for Utah primary elections

Voter turnout data

Out of the released data from Tuesday, over 70,000 voters used the ballot dropbox, while around 18,000 people voted by mail.

“In my calculations, with the turnout for this primary, it was about $25-to $30,000 that we saved,” Davidson said.

A lot of criticism was drawn over whether the county’s decision in early 2024 to stop paying for return postage on mail-in ballots would sway election outcomes.

When asked what he would say to people online who have accused the county of attempting to suppress voters, Davidson responded that dropbox usage increased by 20 percentage points.

“So, I think it had the exact intended effect that I had hoped it would have,” he said. By law, the county still must pay for mail-in ballots without postage.

Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson pointed this fact out on social media in January after the county chose to stop offering stamp payments.

“I mean, she actually voted for that bill that said that counties no longer had to pay for return postage sleeves in the Senate at the time,” Davidson said. “So, she voted for that, that statute.”

Davidson said he found it to be unfortunate because, “You know, unfortunately, she said that. I mean, she actually voted for that bill that said that counties no longer had to pay for return postage sleeves in the the Senate at the time. So she voted for that, that statute.”

Davidson said of the mail-in ballots the county received, most came with a prepaid stamp.

Data released by Utah County’s Elections Division shows that as of Wednesday, about 3,866 ballots have been without postage, forcing the county to pay.

“You know, people took advantage of other people paying their postage,” Davidson said, “I think it was about just under $2,000 that we had to pay.”

He said it has still been less of an expense to the county regardless to have to pay postage after the fact than offer it as a courtesy.

Davidson said due to the large volume of voters coming in before the deadline yesterday, the county will need some extra time to process the thousands of still uncounted votes.

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Data shows most Utah County voters didn’t mail ballots; turnout rates differed slightly