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Voter turnout higher than normal but still low

By Sarah Dallof | Posted - Jun. 23, 2010 at 5:00 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Only 4,000 votes separated Republican Senate candidates Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater in Tuesday's primary election. It emphasizes the importance of voting, but a lot of people didn't.

Voter turnout in the state is estimated to be between 15 and 16 percent, the highest since 2000. Still, it's a lot lower than a lot of people would like to see in an election that will put a brand new politician in the U.S. Senate.

Salt Lake County primary election voter turnout

ElectionTurnout% of registered voters
June 200076,88115.53%
June 200225,0616.7%
June 200446,01110.64%
June 200619,9968.33%
June 200838,8517.84%
June 2010 (unofficial)86,07718.18%
Salt Lake County Clerk

Making it to the polls can be tough, after all, life gets in the way.

We asked Sandy Sandberg if she voted. She responded, "I didn't, which is a very bad thing because I'm really into politics."

Adam Tolman said, "I got busy with work and couldn't get away."

Add up all the reasons and you're left with about 85 percent of Utahns statewide who didn't vote.

Pollster Dan Jones said, "It's not the worst, but it needs to be better. People who voted last night, in my opinion, are the most angry about how government is going."

Salt Lake County saw the most voters with 18.18 percent, significantly more than in the past five election cycles. Still, voting officials say they're "disappointed by the results."

Statewide voter turnout

YearTurnout
200413.9%
200613.5%
20087.9%
201015.6-16% (Estimated)
Office of the Utah Lt. Governor

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said, "If people didn't vote, it's because they choose not to. I don't think it's because they don't know, they didn't know where to vote."

The county and political experts attribute the county's higher-than-years-past number to the actual races this year, especially the fight for ousted former Sen. Bob Bennett's seat.

The bottom line is: a small number of Utahns decided who will be on that ticket in November.

"It's really unfortunate because we know the decisions are made by the people who show up," Swensen said.

With that higher than normal primary turnout, Salt Lake County expects strong turnout at the general election; it could, in fact, be within 10 percentage points of a presidential election.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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