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High voter turnout predicted for Election Day


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of Utahns are casting their ballot, and across the state turnout is reported to be "brisk" overall. According to the lieutenant governor's office, turnout could be at least 50 percent or higher.

Several races are helping generate interest in this election, including those for the governor and congressional seats.

Democrat Peter Corroon is the underdog in the race for Utah governor. When he voted in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning, he knew he also needed a vote from every single one of his neighbors -- and then some.

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Gov. Gary Herbert has a lot of support in the polls, but he is campaigning till the very end and not taking anything for granted.

Corroon, Herbert and the rest of the candidates have been courting voters who say they're motivated to make a difference by casting a ballot.

"I just think it's important for everyone to vote, especially in local elections that affect us," said voter Valerie Revitch.

There's a lot of energy driving this election cycle. Tea Partiers are getting out the vote in Utah and across the nation.

"I know there's a lot of reasons that people are angry right now," voter Carlos Aguirre, "but that's kind of disconcerting because I'd rather have people vote for more thought-out reasons, more rational, calm reasons."

Here's another reason turnout could be important in every race this year: Congressman Jim Matheson, a favorite in the polls, admits "it's not over ‘till it's over." If his race with challenger Morgan Philpot -- or any other race for that matter -- is close, it might come down to thousands of mail-in ballots that won't be counted right away.

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In the end, however, it will still come down to the traditional voter Tuesday.

"We've been a little busy; and the majority of folks who are coming in are young folks, which is surprising," said election judge Shinika Sykes.

About 12 percent of all registered voters in Utah cast a ballot in early voting prior to Tuesday. That's nearly twice the number that voted early in the 2006 midterm election.

However, political pollster Randy Shumway says it's unlikely to affect overall turnout. "I would say that represents people who have discovered that they can vote on their schedule. There's research that early voting does not increase the actual number of eventual voters," he says.

Utah used to have one of the best voter turnouts in the country. Recently, it's had one of the worst. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt says that needs to change.

"We ought to have a majority of the people voting, and a majority of the people eligible to vote, in order to keep democracy healthy," he says.

He suggests parents need to start setting the example because if they don't vote, there's a good chance their children won't vote in the future.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. To find your polling location, CLICK HERE.

After the polls close tonight, get the latest election results here on ksl.com, KSL TV, and KSL Newsradio.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

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Richard Piatt

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