What you need to know about Utah’s by-mail primary election

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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Only seven counties offering ‘drive-up’ Election Day services

SALT LAKE CITY — Haven’t voted yet in Tuesday’s primary election?

Be aware that even though Utah elections have been conducted largely by mail for several years now, there’s a lot about voting that’s different this time thanks to temporary changes put in place by the Utah Legislature to all but eliminate in-person voting because of COVID-19.

If you’ve just been waiting to fill out your ballot, you now have an extra day to get it in the mail. Ballots usually must be postmarked no later than the Monday before Election Day, but for this primary, the deadline has been moved to Tuesday. Drop boxes for ballots are also available throughout the state until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“People are going to need to be patient. The sooner people send their ballots in, the sooner we’ll have results.” — State Elections Director Justin Lee

But if you don’t have a ballot that should have come in the mail earlier this month if you have a primary to vote in, or if you’re an unaffiliated voter who now wants to participate in partisan races, there aren’t going to be any polling places open this election to go to for help.

You’ll only be able to get assistance on Election Day if you live in one of seven counties — Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Tooele, Box Elder and Iron — that opted to offer drive-up services in select locations. There, voters must remain in their cars as election workers attempt to sort out their ballot issues.

Voters using the drive-up service in Salt Lake County should be aware of the county’s new order mandating face masks be worn in public since they are likely to be less than 6 feet away from the election workers, who will be wearing masks, gloves and other protective gear.

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Even with drive-up service, it’s too late to fix some voting problems, since the deadline has passed to switch political parties or register to vote. The changes for this election made earlier this year suspended the state’s same-day voter registration law for this election.

And once voters at a drive-up location gets their ballots, they’re going to be directed to fill them out someplace else before depositing them in a drop box, to keep what may be long lines of cars moving. Salt Lake County is setting up a dozen drive-up locations, but some counties will have only a single place for voters to go.

Swensen said she’s still worried the locations may be overwhelmed.

“We have done everything we can to try to ramp up these drive-up centers and respond to people and try to get them informed. I just, I hope it’s enough. I don’t know what more we could have done under the situation we’re in,” she said. “I’m concerned with a lot of people showing up … just to see what it’s about.”

State Elections Director Justin Lee said he’s hopeful the counties with drive-up service …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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