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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah ranked second to dead-last among all states for voter turnout in the 2008 election, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Only 53.1 percent of eligible voters in Utah showed up to polling locations, down from 67.8 percent in 2004. Only Hawaii had worse turnout, at 51.8 percent.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told KSL Newsradio Tuesday morning that there likely were two reasons: Utahns believed an Obama victory was a done deal, and the Legislature has made it more difficult to register to vote. Swensen says people can no longer register to vote at satellite offices like grocery stores.
The census estimates only 56.8 percent of Utahns were registered to vote in 2008. That was down from 75.7 percent in 2004.
Minnesota had the highest turnout among eligible voters last year, at 75 percent.
Others say turnout would improve if the choices for president were Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
A Rasmussen pollasked voters around the country who they'd vote for in 2012 for president if it were between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The poll resulted in a tie, with both getting 45 percent of the vote.
BYU political science professor Kelly Patterson says it shows Romney has done a good job positioning himself as a leader in the Republican Party.
"It's still a little too early to see who those next leaders might be, but clearly (Massachusetts) Governor Romney has established himself as one among a handful," he said.
He says it also shows Obama's public approval has slipped some.
"People are looking at the president and seeing some of the struggles he's having and maybe having a few more doubts than what they had just a year and a half ago," he said.
The poll also put Sara Palin against Obama as possible contenders. In that case, Obama pulled ahead 48 to 42 percent.
Story compiled with information from Andrew Adams and Randall Jeppesen.