Salt Lake County officials predicting up to 30 percent voter turnout Tuesday

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Don Bradshaw fills out his ballot voting on Utah's primary day at the Anderson-Foothill Library branch Tuesday, June 26, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

This live Twitter feed event is following #utpol and #utgop, as well as Deseret News and KSL reporters on election coverage. We will keep this live event going throughout the evening.

SALT LAKE CITY — A handful of high-profile races has Salt Lake County elections officials expecting a decent voter turnout for Tuesday's primary.

Clerk Sherrie Swensen said 8 percent of county voters already have cast their ballots at early voting locations or through the vote-by-mail program. By the time polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Swensen estimates voter turnout will be somewhere between 25 percent and 30 percent.

"For a (June) primary, that would be pretty good," she said.

Key races include a primary battle pitting U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, against former state lawmaker Dan Liljenquist — the first for the longtime senator in 36 years; a heated race for state attorney general between Republicans Sean Reyes and John Swallow; and a too-close-to-call contest between Mark Crockett and Mike Winder, the GOP candidates for Salt Lake County mayor.

"There are some really high-profile races, and I hope that will encourage people to show up," Swensen said.

One potential drawback, however, is the lack of Democratic primaries on the ballot.

In Salt Lake County, there are only two primaries involving Democrats — the Senate District 8 race between Ty McCartney and Josie Valdez, and the House District 33 contest between incumbent Rep. Neal Hendrickson and challenger Liz Muniz.

There are also some non-partisan elections Tuesday open to all voters in their respective communities.

In Murray, voters will decide whether to support a $33 million general obligation bond to pay for reconstruction of Hillcrest Junior High School and make seismic upgrades to other schools in the Murray District. If approved, residents would pay $58 more per year in property tax on a $200,000 home.

In Summit County, an $8.5 million bond proposal for a new community center will be on the ballot in the North Summit Recreation Special Service District. Homeowners would pay $103 more per year in property tax if the proposition passes.

Earlier this month, the Draper City Council changed its mind on a $26 million bond measure for a new recreation center and pulled it from the ballot. Electronic ballots already were locked in place, meaning Draper voters will see the proposition on their ballots Tuesday, but results will not be tabulated.

More than 30,000 Salt Lake County residents have cast their ballots for this primary election through the vote-by-mail program, Swensen said. That's about 50 percent of the total number of ballots sent out, she said.

"Vote by mail is a hit," Swensen said, noting that 100,000 county voters have signed up for the program. Because the GOP primaries are closed, only 60,000 of those are eligible to vote in the election.

The deadline to vote by mail was midnight Monday. Those who didn't get their ballots postmarked in time can drop them at any polling location before polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Swensen said.

"It doesn't need to be their assigned polling place," she said.

Swensen said voters who have moved recently and haven't registered to vote at their new address shouldn't let them stop them casting ballots in the primary.

"If they've been registered anywhere in the state of Utah and they've moved, they can go to their new polling place and vote a provisional ballot," she said. "By doing that, they will then become registered at their new location. We don't want people to stay home because they moved and didn't get re-registered."

To cast a provisional ballot, voters must have a valid ID and something that shows their new address, like a utility bill, Swensen said.

Salt Lake County residents who need help finding their polling location can call 385-GOT-VOTE or visit www.got-vote.com. Statewide, voters can find information about their polling places and candidates on the ballot at vote.utah.gov.

This live Twitter feed event is following #utpol and #utgop, as well as Deseret News and KSL reporters on election coverage. We will keep this live event going throughout the evening.

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