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Election officials expect “record turnout” but votes may take longer to count

FILE- A employee at the Utah County Election office puts mail in ballots into a container to register the vote in the midterm elections on November 6, 2018 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said she expects to see a “record turnout” for Utah’s June primary Tuesday, with roughly 392 thousand ballots received and processed before the polls closed.  

This number will continue growing over the next 24 hours because Utah voters are permitted to mail-in ballots that are post-marked before polls close at 8 p.m. — thanks to a new state law passed in a special session in late April. 

This means results won’t be as clear by the end of Tuesday night, Swensen said, because they expect to see several more eligible ballots by Wednesday. 

Record turnout will also impact posting

Voters and candidates can also expect results to be posted later than usual as Utah conducted an all-mail primary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, poll locations throughout the state were closed and the postmark deadline extended to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Typically, official results can be expected up to two weeks after polls close. But Utah has extended this to three weeks to account for the possibility that election staff members may become sick and have to quarantine. 

New choice for voters in Utah County

Despite a slower turn around, election officials say operations have been running smoothly at ballot drop-off locations across the state. Utah County even experimented with a new system that allows voters to stay in their cars to receive a replacement ballot. 

From there, voters can fill out these ballots and drive back through to drop off their ballots. 

Clerk Auditor Amelia Powers said this helps residents who have been displaced from active wildfires across the state — allowing them to replace lost ballots. 

“As you’re grabbing your children and your valuables, you don’t think about grabbing the ballot sitting on your counter,” Powers said. “So this has been an opportunity for some of those people to go and get a replacement ballot.”

Polls officially close at 8 p.m. and preliminary results are expected to be released around 10 p.m. However, these results will not be official and many races are not expected to be called tonight. 

Contributing: Lindsay Aerts