Mail-in ballots were already standard in Utah, but on Tuesday it will be the only option for voters participating in the state primary election, among a host of other changes prompted by COVID-19.
Registered Republicans and Democrats in Summit County and Republicans in Wasatch County have already received their ballots by mail. Democrats in Wasatch County have not received ballots as there are no contested races.
Summit County sent out 17,000 ballots to registered voters. Wasatch sent out over 9,500. As of Monday morning, 5,010 ballots had been processed in Summit County, and 3,791 had been processed in Wasatch County.
COVID-19 resulted in several changes to this year’s local primary elections. Summit County Clerk Kent Jones pointed out some changes approved by the Utah state legislature in a special session.
“The postmark can be (dated) on Election Day,” Jones said. “So far, this is the only time that that's allowed, moving forward who knows whether that will change or not. But for this election there’s no in-person voting, you can either mail your ballot in or drop it in a drop box and that includes on election day.”
Voters who haven’t yet received a ballot in the mail are out of luck since there will be no in-person locations.
Another change: preliminary results won’t be available until 10 p.m. on election day. Even then, the Summit County ballots from Monday and Tuesday won’t be counted yet.
“As the ballots come in, we put them in bins and then we let them sit for at least two days,” Jones said. “So we are a little bit slower processing the ballots now. That’s another change for this election by the legislature was that before we do a canvass, they’ve extended the time by a week in order for to get these later ballots that come in. Still, anything that is postmarked on election day or before, and anything that was placed in a drop box on election day or before will still be processed after the fact. That gives us a little more time after Election Day to calculate those results.”
Jones says they expect to not have final results for at least a week.
Meanwhile, Wasatch County is taking a slightly different approach to counting ballots.
County Clerk Cal Griffiths says they are letting ballots sit for a few hours and then using gloves and masks to count them, meaning Wasatch County will have a greater percentage of ballots counted on election day.
Wasatch County residents can drop their ballots off at the county administration building located at 25 North Main St. in Heber. Ballots can be dropped off inside the clerk's office or at an outside drop box in the building’s parking lot.
Summit County has seven drop-off locations including Coalville City Hall, the Summit County Clerk’s Office, Kamas County Services Building, Marsac Building, Sheldon Richins Building, Fresh Market at Jeremy Ranch, and the Market at Park City.
Ballots in both counties are due at 8 p.m. on Election Day.