Despite some problems, Utahns continue to head to the polls

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 2 2010 2:04 p.m. MDT

 Late openings and slow startups of machines were reported at the Ice Sheet in Ogden and Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Taylor said. Some voters were reported to have left the Ice Sheet without voting. Others had a wait time of up to 40 minutes. Voting machines were not up and running until 7:45 a.m. Other locations reportedly used paper ballots while election workers tried to gain access to polling buildings.

 There have been some complaints about candidate signs too close to polling locations (unspecified Murray location, Brookwood and Oakdale Elementary Schools in Sandy). Also widely reported are unauthorized candidate signs on private property, church property and public rights-of-way throughout the state, according to Taylor.

About 12 percent of all registered voters in Utah cast a ballot in early voting prior to Tuesday. That's nearly twice the number that voted early in the 2006 midterm election.

However, political pollster Randy Shumway says it's unlikely to affect overall turnout. "I would say that represents people who have discovered that they can vote on their schedule. There's research that early voting does not increase the actual number of eventual voters," he said.

Utah used to have one of the best voter turnouts in the country. Recently it's had one of the worst. Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said that needs to change.

"We ought to have a majority of the people voting and a majority of the people eligible to vote in order to keep democracy healthy," he said.

He suggests parents need to start setting the example because if they don't vote, there's a good chance their children won't vote in the future.

Several races are helping generate interest in this election, including those for the U.S. Senate and congressional races. Republican Mike Lee and Democratic challenger Sam Granato are vying for Bob Bennett's U.S. Senate seat.

The increasingly close 2nd District congressional race between Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Republican Morgan Philpot also is attracting interest.

In Utah's gubernatorial race, Gov. Gary Herbert is trying to win a term in his own right. Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon is challenging him in a special election for the remaining two years of former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s term. Huntsman resigned in August 2009 to become U.S. ambassador to China.

Candidates are expected to work to get the attention of voters headed to the polls Tuesday.

Voters statewide will consider four amendments to Utah's state constitution:

 Amendment A requires all elections in the state to be by secret ballot — including those for labor union representation.

 Amendment B specifies residency requirements for anyone appointed to be a state senator or representative.

 Amendment C provides a property tax exemption for certain property owned by nonprofit entities if it's used to irrigate land or provide water.

 Amendment D establishes a five-member ethics commission to review complaints of unethical legislative behavior.

Polls will close at 8 p.m.

After the polls close tonight, get the latest election results at deseretnews.com.

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