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Voter turnout already higher than usual in most counties for primary elections

SALT LAKE CITY — Early voting is underway for Utah's 2018 primary elections, and some counties are already reporting above average voter turnout.

Salt Lake County has already hit the same voter turnout percentage as 2016's primary overall turnout, according to the County Clerk Sherrie Swensen. As of Monday night, her office has already received about 68,000 out of 254,624 — just under 27 percent — of the ballots mailed out, matching the 26.78 percent primary turnout in 2016.

"I think the high-profile Republican U.S. Senate primary with (Mitt) Romney and Mike Kennedy, and the convenience of voting by mail, is driving bigger voting numbers," Swensen said.

Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson said his office has received a little over 20,000 ballots so far, which he said is a "fair amount, but not overwhelming" for the county's voting patterns for primary elections.

Davis County Clerk Curtis Koch said he's "very optimistic" his county's voters will outperform their overall voter turnout of the 2016 primary elections of 30.17 percent, as the county was already at 28.17 percent as of Monday.

Weber County Elections Director Ryan Cowley said his office has received about 12,000 ballots out of the 68,000 mailed out.

"Compared with most primary years, it's above average," Cowley said, adding he predicts overall turnout in the county will be about 45 percent.

Cache County, however, has run into some trouble with its early voting. According to County Clerk Jill Zollinger, voters were supposed to receive their ballots in the mail shortly after June 5, but the vendor for assembling and mailing ballots ran into a delay.

"Where that delay came from or started after that, they're still looking into," Zollinger said.

As of Sunday less than half of the ballots had been scanned by the post office for delivery. By Monday night 90 percent of the ballots had been scanned and ready for delivery, Zollinger said Tuesday, adding she assumes more have come through since then.

Despite the delay, Zollinger said all dates and deadlines for voting will remain the same as the rest of the state: Friday is the last day for early voting at polling centers, and June 26 is Election Day. Cache County will open more voting assistance centers to accommodate any trouble caused by the delay.

FILE — Voters in Herriman line up to cast their votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 at Butterfield Elementary school.
FILE — Voters in Herriman line up to cast their votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 at Butterfield Elementary school.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Justin Lee, state elections director, confirmed the deadline for all Utah voters to postmark their mail-in ballot is Monday.

Lee said he doesn't have any reliable predictions for voter turnout this election, though, "usually big races do drive people to polls. But how that will compare to races in the past is hard to say."

Swensen mentioned a few important things Utah residents should remember about voting: registering to vote ended Tuesday, and the GOP ballots are only available to registered Republicans. The school board primaries are nonpartisan.

Koch said in addition to voting by mail, there's another alternative to standing in line on election day.

"We encourage people to go to polling location on Election Day and drop off that ballot and be on their way and skip any potential lines," Koch said. "It's the same ballot they received in the mail. It's easy and convenient and gives them an opportunity to have a fast pass on Election Day."

The election officials encourage the public to vote in this election

"It's important to always exercise the right they have to vote," Thompson said. "It's convenient with vote by mail and voter service centers. I really encourage them to take the time to learn about the candidates and go out and vote!"

Utah residents wanting more info on voting, including finding voting locations, can either go to the state voting website at or their own county's voting website.