SALT LAKE CITY — Residents in the five Utah County cities holding vote-by-mail elections this year won't have to cast two ballots to weigh in on both city and county issues.
Elections officials have reached a compromise after five cities — Alpine, Cedar Hills, Lehi, Orem and Vineyard — protested the Utah County clerk's refusal to allow a proposed sales tax increase to be printed on mail-in ballots.
The compromise came in a private meeting Monday afternoon between Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson and representatives from the five cities and the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office.
"I appreciate the willingness of all parties to work together on this important issue," Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said in a prepared statement. "Our focus must always be on what is best for voters, and I believe this resolution accomplishes that."
Thompson said he was concerned that allowing the sales tax proposal to be placed on vote-by-mail ballots would give those cities unfair pull in determining the success or failure of the countywide proposal because by-mail elections typically increase turnout.
But mayors of the vote-by-mail cities contended that their residents' voices would actually be stifled regarding the countywide tax because it would be confusing for them to have to cast two ballots.
Under Monday's agreement, every voter in the county will cast only one ballot for both municipal elections and the county ballot proposition. The five vote-by-mail cities will continue to conduct their municipal general election by mail, while the other municipalities in Utah County will conduct a traditional election.
I appreciate the willingness of all parties to work together on this important issue. Our focus must always be on what is best for voters, and I believe this resolution accomplishes that.
–Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox
The Utah County Clerk's Office will also mail to each household in the traditional voting municipalities a postcard reminding voters they may request a by-mail ballot online or in-person.
"That way, everybody gets an equal opportunity to vote, whether or not they automatically get a ballot in the mail," Thompson said.
The compromise should also save the county money, he said, because it won't have to conduct two separate elections.
"It's a win for the cities, win for the integrity of the election, and a win for the taxpayers," Thompson said.
Cameron Boyle, assistant to the Lehi city administrator, said city officials were pleased with the compromise.
"Primarily our focus throughout this whole situation has been what we feel is best for the voters in Lehi and the voters throughout the county," Boyle said. "We're pleased that we've come to a solution where we can make this as effective and efficient as possible for all voters."
Although the ballot and administrative matters will be combined, cities will canvass their respective election results and the county will canvass its ballot proposition.