John Daley ReportingWith Election Day now less than a month away, one national trend is echoing in Utah. The number of people registering to vote is up--way up.
Perhaps it's the monumental so-called "most important election of our lifetime", pitting challenger John Kerry against incumbent George W. Bush in a race which is inspiring extreme emotion on both sides.
Perhaps it's the political drama swirling around Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman.
Perhaps it's the initiatives on gay marriage or open space that's drawing some high interest from the citizenry.
Whatever the reason, the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office is plenty busy these days processing literally boxes and boxes of voter registration forms, new voters signing up for this most basic democratic duty. This as people are already showing up to vote absentee in an election that is still more than three weeks away.
Folks we spoke with have strong feelings about how they'll vote.
Garrett Barry, Salt Lake City Voter: Q- Was this something that was important for you to be involved in? A-“More so than any one in the past.” Q- How come? A-“Just everything that’s going on in the world, particularly the war in Iraq. I just feel very strongly about it. I just want to make sure we have a new direction.”
Nationwide, Americans are registering to vote in record numbers. Places as far away as St. Louis, Tallahasee, Cleveland and Las Vegas report historic numbers and large increases in advance of next month's general election. That trend is happening in Utah too.
Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake County Clerk: "Absolutely, it's been huge. In fact, day before yesterday, we received two thousand by-mail forms, just in that one day.” Q- Two thousand in a day? “Two thousand in one day."
The Salt Lake County clerk is reporting exceptionally large numbers overall. Over the last three months, 70,000 people in the county have re-registered and 20,000 new voters have filled out a form to sign up to vote.
If you want to register to vote--you've still got time. The deadline in Salt Lake County for mail-in registration is Oct. 13, but you can register to vote in person up until Oct. 25.