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Utah County election officials will text voters to avoid lines at polling locations

Early voters line up to cast their ballots at the South Regional Library polling location in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

With election officials expecting record voter turnout, Utah County clerks are looking to avoid long lines at in-person polling locations. One solution: Text messages notifying voters when it’s their turn to pick up their ballot. 

Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers Gardner said she got the idea from restaurants who utilize a similar system — notifying guests when their table is ready for seating. 

“I was like, ‘That’s brilliant,'” Powers Gardner said. “I need that for voting.”

County officials will use the same app, called TablesReady, to notify voters when it’s their turn to enter the polling location.

When voters arrive at one of the eight polling locations in Utah County, they will receive a QR code or phone number confirmation. Then, they’ll be sent out to their car until it’s their turn to vote. 

“Another text message comes through that says, ‘We’re ready for you at the Utah County ballot location. Please proceed through the entrance door,'” Powers Gardner said. 

Voters can then enter the in-person polling location, receive their paper ballot, fill it out and place it in a ballot drop box. 

Powers hopes the system will prevent long lines at polling locations. She also hopes it alleviates concerns surrounding cold weather that could deter people from voting. 

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