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Politics & Government
Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Fact Vs. Fiction: Salt Lake County Clerk Answers FAQs About Voting

An illustration of red and blue colored hands dropping ballots into a box.
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Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said she's received a lot of questions about voting this year, like if people need to request a mail-in ballot or how precisely their signatures have to match their I.D. She also said the level of enthusiasm among voters is "amazing," and surpasses anything she's seen before.

The election is just 11 days away, and there are a lot of misconceptions about voting Utahns might have to wade through. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen helped break down what’s fact and what’s fiction.

Registered voters need to request a mail-in ballot in order to receive one this year.

VERDICT: FALSE

Registered voters will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. People who have not registered will need to cast a provisional ballot in person on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.

Unregistered voters in Utah can still register to vote after the deadline.

VERDICT: TRUE

Utah’s voter registration deadline is 5 p.m. Oct. 23. But same day voter registration is allowed by state law both on Election Day and during early in-person voting. Voters must register in person at a polling place and will have to cast a provisional ballot, which means they’ll need to bring extra materials.

“They would have to show I.D. and proof of residency, and that would be a bank statement, a car registration, a lease agreement, a utility bill with their name and address printed on it as proof of residency. That ballot is then held until we can verify that they provided what they needed to in order for that ballot to be counted.” — Sherrie Swensen

Using a drop box is better than mailing a ballot through the postal service (or vice versa).

VERDICT: UP TO YOU

Both options are considered secure, but ballots sent through the mail must be postmarked by Nov. 2.

“[Voters] can't put it in their mailbox in front of their house and expect the postman to take it back and get it postmarked [in time]. They need to make sure it’s mailed earlier.” — Sherrie Swensen

If voters do use a drop box, they’ll have more time — until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Swensen added that with social distancing requirements in place, choosing to vote in person instead of using a mail in ballot could overwhelm polling places with long lines.

“We really are encouraging people to use their by mail ballot because it is safe and efficient. And if we have a lot of people — just because of the rhetoric about vote by mail — showing up at our vote centers it would overwhelm them. The vote centers are really meant for the individuals who did not receive a ballot.” — Sherrie Swensen

Even if someone has turned in a mail-in ballot, they can still go in person to vote just to make sure their vote is counted.

VERDICT: FALSE

“That is considered double voting, and it's against the federal law as well as the state law.” — Sherrie Swensen

If you have been mailed a ballot and show up to vote in person, poll workers will give you a provisional ballot, according to state elections director Justin Lee. After Election Day, officials will look to make sure you didn’t also vote by mail before they count your provisional ballot.

Employers have to give employees time off to vote on Election Day.

VERDICT: TRUE

If a person does not have at least a three hour period where they are not working when polls are open on Election Day, employers are required to give employees up to two hours leave to vote.

Voters have to vote in every race, or else their entire ballot will be invalidated.

VERDICT: FALSE

Refusing to vote in a certain race will not invalidate your entire ballot.

“You can vote for the contest that you want, and those will be counted.” — Sherrie Swensen

A voter’s signature has to exactly match the signature on their driver’s license.

VERDICT: FALSE

The signature does not have to be exactly the same, but the handwriting must match.

“We would not reject a signature if they don't sign it with their middle initial. We're not that finicky. It's a handwriting comparison.” — Sherrie Swensen

People convicted of felonies can’t vote.

VERDICT: FALSE

People who have been convicted of a felony who are not currently incarcerated are eligible to vote. If they have not registered to vote, they can cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.

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