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Recount Expected In Utah House Race As Dems Pick Up Two Other Seats

The Salt Lake County Clerk released its final election results on Tuesday night, two weeks after the general election.


A recount is expected in the House District 32 race between incumbent Republican Lavar Christensen and his Democratic challenger Suzanne Harrison.


Harrison was trailing by six votes over the weekend and in the final tally, came up just three short. The Utah Democratic Party announced it will formally request a recount.


Democrats made gains in other races, however, picking up two seats from Republicans in District 31 in West Valley City and District 34, which includes Taylorsville and parts of Murray.


Elizabeth Weight is representative-elect to District 31, and attended the final canvas Tuesday evening at the Salt Lake County Council chambers. She defeated Republican incumbent Sophia DiCaro in another tight race.


Credit Julia Ritchey, KUER
Representative-elect Elizabeth Weight, D-West Valley City, speaks to reporters about her win over incumbent Republican Sophia DiCaro.

  “What made the difference for me is that we knocked on a lot of doors and met a lot of people,” she said. “And we emphasized representation from the perspective of people.”


Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says overall turnout increased by about 14 percent from the 2012 general election, with about 510,400 votes cast this year.


Although the process went fairly smoothly, Swensen did regret the long lines at some polling sites.   


“I want to send an apology to those individuals who waited in line,” said Swensen. “As an afterthought, I wish we had had more vote centers. We had a large number of provisional ballots, and it slowed things down immensely.”


Swensen said despite reports of some misinformation about the vote-by-mail process, a majority of Salt Lake voters, about 84 percent, ended up using the paper ballot.


In person early voting, by comparison, was down. Only 3 percent of residents took advantage of the 17 polling sites that were open early, another possible factor that contributed to long lines on election day.


[View final results here.]


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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