In the two months leading up to the June Republican primary election, more than 73,000 Utahns registered with the Utah GOP.
Some Democrats and left-leaning unaffiliated voters temporarily switched their affiliations to participate, since only registered Republicans could vote in the primary.
But that switch is only temporary if voters remember to change their affiliation again. Voters who now want to disaffiliate need to re-register with another party or as an independent. But Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said staying a Republican won’t impact which elections voters can participate for a while.
“Partisan elections won't even take place again until June of 2022,” Swensen said.
The Utah Democratic Party hasn’t decided if its next primary will be open to registered Republicans. The March Presidential Primary was open — but only Democrats and unaffiliated voters could participate in the party’s June election. Voters who don’t switch back wouldn’t automatically receive a Democratic ballot, but they could still ask for one.
“If the Democratic Party opens their primary in 2022 to voters of any party, they would just request a Democratic ballot without having to affiliate,” Swensen said.
Voters that switch affiliations before the election is certified will still have their votes counted, according to the state elections director.
Salt Lake City voter Ryan Williams, who registered with the GOP to vote in the June’s primary, wants to go back to being an unaffiliated voter much sooner than 2022.
“It's more symbolic that I want to, on paper and in my heart, really consider issues as they come up rather than just mark according to party affiliation,” Williams said. “I also just hate getting party mailers.”
Voters can switch their party affiliation up to 11 days before a partisan election.