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Steve Griffin, KSL, File

Officials report smooth sailing as voters go to polls in Salt Lake, Utah, Weber and Davis counties

By Kim Bojorquez, KSL | Updated - Aug 13th, 2019 @ 10:56pm | Posted - Aug 13th, 2019 @ 7:02pm



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SALT LAKE CITY — As four counties worked to process voters’ ballots on primary election night, county clerks reported short wait times and a low voter turnout.

After 10 p.m., unofficial election results showed that about 71,858 ballots, or 22%, had been cast in the Salt Lake Valley.

“Everything went very smoothly today,” Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said. “The only disappointment is that there weren’t more voters.”

She added that some of the races were “really close and they can definitely change.”

Swensen had hoped and expected a larger voter turnout due to the use of mail-in ballots.

“We’ve got some pretty hotly contested races, so I was hoping for a better turnout,” she said.

Swensen said there are still a lot of ballots to count and there are two updates that will occur Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m.

“It’s gone very smoothly, but I just want better turnout,” Swensen said, adding that she hoped for a 50% turnout for Salt Lake City.

But Swensen added it’s possible for Salt Lake City’s voter turnout to reach 35%.

In West Jordan, voters selected two mayoral candidates for the upcoming November ballot. In 2017, residents voted to replace their council-manager form of government to a mayor-council form, also known as strong mayor form, by a tight margin.

Late returns showed Dirk Burton and incumbent Jim Riding in the lead with 42% and 38% of the votes. Mayoral candidate Alan R. Anderson received 18% of the vote.

“I was a little disappointed that I came in second so far,” Riding said, adding that he looks forward to the final election results.

Riding said he’s confident he’ll make it on November’s ballot and win reelection.

Burton said he’s looking forward to working with voters and getting ready for the general election.

“I am very excited,” he said. “I got a lot of work ahead of me still.”

Selecting a strong mayor will be a first for West Jordan, and follow in the footsteps of most large Utah cities with a mayor-council form of government like Provo and Salt Lake City.

Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers believes this year’s elections is a “stark difference” compared to “how it ran in the past.”

The county had been under fire during last year’s elections when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert slammed the way it handled its election night, calling it the “epicenter of dysfunction” due to its long wait times at polls.

However, Powers expected to receive 10 trays of mail-in ballots from the post office Tuesday, but instead received 2½ trays, each filled with about 350 ballots.

“We have people running to the post office right now,” she said, adding that she received a call from the post office earlier to pick up four additional trays.

She said ballot drop boxes, specifically the drive-up drop boxes, have been popular among voters.

“People are really loving those and utilizing them,” she said.

Powers said she’s noticed more people filling out their mail-in ballots and dropping them off at drop boxes than voters arriving at polling locations. She said hasn’t noticed lines at polling locations.

“I expect it to go fairly smoothly, everything to this point has been functioning as it’s been designed,” she said.

By late evening, Powers said she and her staff had processed 32,000 ballots and expected to update results at 11:30 p.m.

Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch said things were quiet at their office most of election night. Shortly after 9:30 p.m., Weber County reported a 27% turn out.

Weber County Clerk reported no setbacks and that all was “flowing smoothly.”

The Davis County Clerk’s Office reported an unofficial total turnout of about 26%, and it reported no lines at polling stations.

Davis County Chief Deputy Clerk Brian McKenzie said the turnout was 5 percentage points lower than what was predicted, but he said it was “still great for a municipal primary election.”

Contributing: Christina Giardinelli

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