A dearth of early morning voters and a low absentee tally prompted Davis County Clerk Margene Isom to lower her estimate of voter turnout in today's primary election to less than 20 percent.
Besides the nonpartisan school board candidates, there is only one countywide race in Davis County, pitting Republican commission candidates Gayle Stevenson and L. Burke Larsen. There are two GOP legislative races in the south end of the county.Moving the primary election from September back to June is a mistake, Isom believes, and has created a lot of headaches for her office.
She had a hard time getting enough election judges and was still short in a few districts as the polls opened Tuesday morning. A majority of the county's polling places are in schools, most of which are closed in June, Isom said.
"It's been difficult. We've got to do something," Isom told the County Commission Monday as they formally approved a list of election judges.
State law requires three judges in each polling place, but Isom said there are some districts where she couldn't find three volunteers. Some judges who committed later called and canceled, saying they would be out of town on vacation, Isom said.
"With the primary, it's not that big of a problem." Isom said of the judge shortage. "You do the best you can."
The election will cost the county around $160,000, Isom said, mostly for judges' pay. Isom initiated a new judging system this year, naming a head judge in each voting district.
Judges get $60 for their work, head judges are paid $75 and have to undergo a training session. "I told them at the workshop they'd earn every penny of that $75," Isom said.
Keeping the polling places in school buildings also creates a problem, she said. Many of the schools are closed for the summer, although some on year-around session are open.
"I think the school district is going to look to be paid for opening the buildings," Isom said. "They're going to want something for the utilities and they have to bring in a custodian."
She predicted Tuesday's turnout at under 20 percent of the county's 103,321 registered voters. Her office tallied 309 absentee ballots.
"There's only one countywide race, not counting the school board," Isom said. "People are out of town, they're on vacation, they're just not prepared for an election in June."
Turnout for the 1992 primary election, the last one to be held in the fall, was 58 percent in Davis County. That race, too, included a GOP race for the nomination for a county commission seat but pitted Stevenson against Dannie McConkie.
Stevenson won that one and McConkie returned two years later to run again, this time winning a commission seat.
The first spring primary, in 1994, saw only a 20 percent turnout in the county. That primary had GOP candidates in several of the legislative districts as well as a GOP battle for the sheriff's nomination with Rob Davis challenging incumbent Glenn Clary.