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Some voters to get paper

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Kim Lewis of Salt Lake City holds daughter Lydia Geyer as she votes at the county complex Thursday. State officials are pleased with the early turnout.

Kim Lewis of Salt Lake City holds daughter Lydia Geyer as she votes at the county complex Thursday. State officials are pleased with the early turnout.

August Miller, Deseret Morning News

AMERICAN FORK — While guiding voters to high-tech polling machines, Utah County elections officials also will be giving out paper ballots to a handful of American Fork residents Tuesday.

Election chiefs say some 2,840 registered voters will be asked to identify their property on a county map before they're pointed to the polling booths in Pleasant Grove precincts 1, 5, and 15.

That's because at least four properties disconnected from Pleasant Grove and annexed into American Fork over the last few years, skewing county election boundaries and sending a handful of American Fork residents to vote in Pleasant Grove.

The problem is, since voting procedures will be registered electronically for the first time this year, Pleasant Grove's ballot won't include American Fork's proposed $46.95 million water irrigation bond.

Instead, the few American Fork folks who turn up in Pleasant Grove on Tuesday will be supplemented with paper ballots with which they can vote for or against the bond proposal.

Those voters will also use the electronic system for countywide issues.

"I don't see any problem with that," said Joe Demma, chief of staff for the state elections office under the direction of Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert. "As long as people who want to vote get to vote, that's all we care about."

Demma said the situation in American Fork and Pleasant Grove is the only one he's aware of that will impact use of electronic voting machines across the state.

In fact, Demma said, 50,000 voters have already used the machines. That's good news to Demma, since the state has never tried early voting before, and the early-vote numbers are surprisingly high.

"As we look at other states that have implemented early voting, this is higher than any other state in terms of percentage, this far, at their first go-around with early voting," Demma said. "We're extremely pleased."

Some voters who live in Pleasant Grove precincts 1, 5, or 15 may also have voted early, and it's possible that the American Fork residents voting in Pleasant Grove have slipped through the cracks, said Utah County elections coordinator Sandy Hoffmann.

But since Hoffman has not so far been able to find anyone involved with the American Fork annexations who is actually registered to vote or who voted in the municipal elections last year, she says she's not too worried about early voters having a negative impact on the bond election.

"We're talking about a very small number that's not going to make or break the bond," Hoffmann said. "I'd be very surprised if we had more than 20 votes for the bond election from that area."

Hoffmann said the elections committee is having special ballots printed for those precincts anyway, so that every voter who wants to can vote on their city's issues.

Melanie Marsh, American Fork's chief of staff, says she doesn't think the city's bond election will be hampered by the Election Day changes.

"I have been involved with elections before, and as long as (election officials) work with the election judges and they're clear on what their duties should be, it shouldn't pose a problem," Marsh said.

Hoffmann said the precinct boundary lines in that area will likely be redrawn before next year's elections.


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com