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

With Thousands Of Ballots Left, Primary Election Totals Likely Won't Come Until At Least Next Week

Photo of a mailbox covered with "i voted" stickers
BackyardProduction via iStock
Some of Utah's primary election races may take at least a week to determine, as thousands of ballots are still being counted.

County clerks in Utah are still counting ballots from Tuesday’s primary election.

Utah’s Elections Director Justin Lee said, as of Thursday morning, around 100,000 ballots remain to be processed, and some could still be coming in the mail. 

That means voters and candidates shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the final tally. Looking back at the 2018 race between Mia Love and Ben McAdams for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, Lee said it was a full two weeks before the winner was determined — and the same could happen this year.

“In the 1st Congressional District, the governor’s race and a few smaller legislative races, it may take that long to get a clear picture,” Lee said. “So, we’re all going to have to be patient.”

Even without the totals, Lee said this election has had excellent voter participation. By Thursday afternoon, more than 460,000 votes had been counted in the governor’s race alone, compared to about 381,000 total votes in 2018’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, which Mitt Romney won. 

This year’s high-profile races likely drew more voters, but Lee said holding the election almost entirely by mail helped, too. The state relied on mail-in voting to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at polling places, though some counties gave voters the option to participate in drive-up voting.

Lee said getting a ballot in the mail is a good reminder to vote.

“We do see an increase in turnout for smaller-turnout elections, like municipal elections or primary elections,” he said, “and this election is absolutely no exception to that.”

Lee said November’s election will also be conducted mostly by mail, with a few more in-person polling places to accommodate demand for the general election.

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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