County clerks hope for last-minute turnout for Utah primary elections

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns are making a last-minute push to the ballot box to make sure their votes are counted before Tuesday's primary election.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the lieutenant governor's office said turnout was at 24.2% statewide. Some of the rural counties have the highest turnout, with 43.9% in Piute and 43.6% in San Juan, while Utah County has the lowest turnout, with 16.6%.

At the Salt Lake County vote center, KSL-TV was there as thousands of ballots were dropped off about midday. It was just one batch of about 390,000 ballots that went out county-wide. Salt Lake's turnout is sitting at 23.8%, according to the lieutenant governor's data.

Salt Lake County Clerk Lannie Chapman hopes Utahns all across the state will remember to turn in those primary election ballots.

"I'm seeing a lot of people taking their time and turning their ballots. And this weekend — we're seeing a lot from this weekend. And today and tomorrow, I feel like we're going to see a lot of ballots, a lot of participation tomorrow," Chapman said.

Chapman said you should still plan to vote even if your ballot isn't in pristine condition.

"I've seen lots of coffee stains, I've seen spaghetti stains, I've seen them all; those ballots can still be processed. You do not need a new ballot just because there's a stain on it," she said.

What if you lost your ballot or threw it away by accident? Chapman said just find your closest in-person polling location. They're all open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"It'll be a very quick turnaround for you to be able to still have your voice heard, but you'll be doing it in person as opposed to by mail," she said.

What's at stake?

Republicans and Democrats are deciding who will move on to represent their party in November. But it's only Republicans who have statewide races.

A Democrat has not represented Utah in the U.S. Senate since 1977. Utah hasn't had a Democratic governor since 1980, meaning whoever makes it out of the GOP primary is favored to do well in November.

New polling on Monday in the U.S. Senate and governor's races showed that Rep. John Curtis and Gov. Spencer Cox had sizable leads over their next closest challengers.

The polling from Noble Predictive Insights showed Curtis with a 20-point lead over his next challenger, Trent Staggs, and no other candidate broke double digits.

In the governor's race, it showed Cox with a 13-point lead over challenger Phil Lyman.

However, Curtis and Cox didn't have a great turnout among rural and southern Utah voters. The polling showed that southern Utah counties favored Staggs by two points and Lyman by 33 points.

"The southern, rural stretches of Utah were a problem for Cox in the 2020 gubernatorial primary, so it's no surprise that both Cox and Curtis post some of their worst numbers there, said NPI Chief of Research David Blyer.

The research showed that GOP women also prefer both Cox and Curtis over their next closest opponents. The other interesting data was the so-called Trump factor.

The polling showed that Utah Republicans who support Donald Trump more than they support the Republican Party have largely followed whichever candidate Trump endorsed. Staggs earned 55% of those voters in the senate race compared to Curtis' 22%.

The schism is deeper in the governor's race. Phil Lyman leads Cox by 61 points among Trump-first Republicans.

But for those who are party loyalists, the leaders flip back to being Curtis and Cox.

"In Utah it's becoming increasingly tough to oppose Trump," Byler said. "But if you can meld the anti-Trump faction with some pro-Trump voters — and lean on GOP women — you can create a solid coalition."

"But, heading into this final stretch, it's clear that both Cox and Curtis are in the lead," Byler said.

The poll surveyed 432 likely voters from June 20-21 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.71 percentage points. The poll used "frequent primary voters and Republicans registered after the 2022 primary."

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Lindsay Aerts
Lindsay is a reporter for KSL-TV who specializes in political news. She attended Utah State University and got a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She previously reported for KSL NewsRadio.


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