Leaders of the Utah Democratic Party have filed a complaint with the Lt. Governor’s office about letters county clerks are sending to unaffiliated voters asking them which primary ballot they’d like to receive.
Utah Democratic Party chairman Peter Corroon says that it’s unfair that county clerks are asking unaffiliated voters which party primary ballot they’d like to receive and registering them as Republicans if that’s what they choose. He says because the Democratic primary is open that Democratic ballots should be sent to every voter, including Republicans.
“I think voters are being disenfranchised by having our county clerks do this," he says. "I think they need to do what they’re eligible to do which is send people a Democratic ballot and not being out there acting as the de-facto Republican Party.”
But Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, who is a Democrat, says sending a Democratic ballot to every voter is unrealistic and might not even be allowed under current election law.
“Our statute does not contemplate that we send more than one ballot out for a primary," she says. "So, we’re trying to accomplish what we need to do to efficiently run the primary election in the situation that we’re faced with. One party with an open primary, one party with a closed primary.”
Swensen also says this is how they’ve handled the situation with vote-by-mail participants since the Utah Republican Party initially chose to close their primary. She also points out that when an unaffiliated voter goes to a polling location, they’ve always been asked which ballot they’d like to receive and been given the opportunity to affiliate with the Republican Party if desired.
While Corroon says he thinks it’s too late to make a difference for this election, he does hope that the complaint might change how ballots are sent out in the future.