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In-person early voting starts in Utah for Super Tuesday

(Signs are posted at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office, urging people to vote early. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE COUNTY – Voters in Utah are already getting a jump on Super Tuesday as they pick the candidates they want to see representing the political parties.  Today is the first day of in-person early voting for the primary elections and county clerks in Utah say interest in voting is way up this year.

In Davis County, election officials are urging people to mail in their ballots as quickly as possible.  They say voter interest is very high and they don’t want people waiting in long lines on Super Tuesday.

In Utah County, clerks have already received over 13,000 early ballots, with the majority of them coming On Feb. 18th.  Officials there say they saw a big spike in the number of people registering to vote thanks to the referendum on the now-repealed tax code.

In Salt Lake County, they’re also watching voter interest increase significantly.

“At one point, I heard we had about 6,000 additional registrations.  This early in the year, that’s a record,” according to County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.

Super Tuesday is a very different thing than the primary Utah participated in 2008, according to Swensen.  Back then, the candidates had essentially already been decided by the time Utahns got to weigh in.  This year, voters in this state will have a more prominent impact on shaping who the candidates are.

(Voting machines set up in the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office. Credit: Paul Nelson)

For now, there’s only one place people can vote in person in Salt Lake County, and that’s inside the clerk’s office.  However, Swensen says they’ve been getting a swarm of ballots in the mail.

She says, “So far, we’ve received about 40,000 ballots back at this point.  That’s a large number.”

In order to vote in the Republican primary, you have to be a registered Republican.  The same isn’t true for the Democratic ballot.  You can be unaffiliated and still request a ballot for that party.  Swensen says they’re getting a lot of calls from people who are confused about party affiliation rules.

“They’re unaffiliated voters and they’re saying, ‘I just want to be independent or unaffiliated.’ But, this is a nomination for the candidates for the political parties,” she says.

As vote-by-mail becomes increasingly popular in Utah, Swensen says they see one big problem.  Too many people are forgetting to sign the affidavit that comes with the return ballot.  Without that signature, Swensen says they can’t process that vote.

“I can’t believe, still, the number of who return their envelope and don’t sign that affidavit,” Swensen says.

Also, if you want to send your ballot by mail, it has to be postmarked by the Monday before Super Tuesday.  If you drop your ballot in the mailbox on Election Day, it won’t be processed in time.

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