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Utah County Commissioners certify Primary Election with 41% turnout

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Tuesday, July 9, was primary election canvassing day throughout the state. Utah’s 29 counties voted to certify the 2024 Primary Election totals and results. 

“Leading up to the election, Utah County had a really low voter turnout, and I was kind of getting concerned as we approached Election Day, but Election Day was quite spectacular. We had 38,000 ballots dropped in our drop boxes, and a little over 3,100 people showed up to vote in person,” said Utah County Clerk Aaron Davidson to begin his presentation to the Commissioners on Tuesday. 

The County started the primary election with 228,232 eligible voters; 94,070 votes were counted for a countywide turnout of 41.2%.

“I tried to encourage use of the drop boxes because using the drop box is much more secure, I believe,” said Davidson. 

Voters responded well to the encouragement to use drop boxes this year; 77% of ballots were submitted using this method. 

Earlier this year, Davidson decided to discontinue paying for postage on returned ballots, asking voters to apply their own stamp if they chose to return their ballot in the mail. Of Utah’s 29 counties, 19 do not pay for return postage. Federal election law requires that the post office deliver unstamped ballots and charge the County for postage.

Voters who returned ballots by mail stamped 16,953, and 4,701 were sent in without a stamp. 

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Despite the convenience of mail-in ballots, the process comes with challenges that may result in disenfranchised voters.

In Utah County, 1,473 signatures didn’t match voter signatures on file, 141 voters failed to sign their ballot, and 782 arrived late. Of the 2,852 ballots on the “cure list,” or list of ballots that needed clarification, 955 were cured or resolved and counted. 

“It’s best we encourage in-person [voting], then the drop boxes and then mail,” concluded Davidson. 

“Voter turnout in the June Primary of 2016, the year before we did vote by mail, was 16.8%, and today it’s 41%. If you look at the single biggest demographic [change], it’s moms, and I truly believe that moms’ voices matter and moms in Utah County voted dead last until we did vote by mail,” responded Commissioner Amelia Gardner, who defended vote by mail. 

The meeting concluded with public comments from about a dozen citizens expressing concern for the election process, voting by mail and their perceived signature-gathering issues surrounding the Governor’s race. Several members of the public asked the Commissioners to not certify the election, although it was already unanimously certified before public comment by Commissioners Brandon Gordon and Amelia Gardner, as well as Utah County Treasurer Kim Jackson, who was a substitute for the absent Commissioner Tom Sakievich.

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