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Election Officials Anticipate Busy Polling Day

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Daniel Painter shows his "I voted" sticker after casting his ballot early at River's Bend Senior Center. Friday was the last day for early in-person voting, which fewer than 10 percent of Utahns took advantage of.

Election officials are warning of long lines this week as only a third of Utahns have taken advantage of early voting and mail-in balloting.

There was no line at the River’s Bend Senior Center near Rose Park for the handful of residents who took advantage of the last day of in-person early voting on Friday.

Jeremy Matthews was one of those who came out to avoid the crowds.

“I heard there were going to be long lines and in anticipation, I want to get it done while I can,” he says.

Matthews also found the vote-by-mail ballot confusing.

“The instructions on the mail-in ballot weren’t actually how you mail in the ballot, so I was worried about using that and having my vote lost,” he says.

Because this is the first year Utah has implemented statewide mail-in ballots, election officials are concerned people are delaying their vote.

Utah County is bringing in an extra 100 poll workers for next Tuesday and Salt Lake County is upping its capacity as well.

Mark Thomas, state director of elections, says the best strategy for skipping the line is to get your mail-in ballot postmarked by Monday, or drop it off in person on Tuesday.

“As soon as you know how you’re going to vote, then get that ballot in," he says. "Even if it’s on election day and you have it completed and you want to drop it at a polling location, or a ballot drop box.”

With election rigging and voter fraud a topic of concern, officials are also setting up hotlines and websites to report complaints. Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber tapped a District Election Officer, a position he appoints every major election cycle.

“He will be by his phone all day long on the day of the election, while the polls are open, and will take calls directly,” he says. “ So there’s no middle man, no bureaucratic red tape. He will take calls directly on election fraud or voting rights abuses that people may be concerned about.”

Huber says Utah is fortunate to have had problem-free elections and doesn’t anticipate anything different this year.   

For more voter information, check out KUER's election guide page.


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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