Throughout the day, polling places around the state were mostly silent, interrupted as much by ringing cell phones as voters.

Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake County clerk, said turnout rates were likely below 10 percent, and could be the lowest they have ever seen. Even after including absentee and early-voter numbers into the primary day mix, voter turnout may only be between 6 and 8 percent, she said.

While Swensen was expecting these numbers, she said that it doesn't make them any less disconcerting.

"We go to a lot of work and expense during elections," Swensen said. "It's disappointing because we'd hope people would want to participate."

Davis County Clerk Steve Rawlings was seeing similar percentages.

"We were expecting a better turnout than it will actually be," Rawlings said. "The numbers aren't anywhere near what we'd hoped for."

And it's not because the information wasn't available to voters, both Rawlings and Swensen said. In both counties, registered voters received postcards that informed residents about their polling locations, early voting and absentee voting. Swensen said that information on polling locations was also reported in newspapers.

"People have been informed, they just chose not to participate," Swensen said. "Between our efforts and the media, people knew there was a primary, and they just made the decision to not participate in it."

Since the primaries began being held in June instead of September, a change made in 1992, voter turnout has been on a decline during the primaries.

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"Unfortunately, voter turnout has been very low and we won't know any official information until tomorrow," said Spencer Hadley, special assistant to the lieutenant governor.

Both Swensen and Rawlings are expecting the opposite situation in November, however. Rawlings is preparing his staff to accommodate voter turnout rates as high as 90 percent, since there will be a presidential race, multiple legislative contests and other races that will interest voters.


E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com