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Voter registration deadlines, early voting nearing

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 2:44 p.m. MDT

Christy Watkins (2nd from left) casts her ballot during the general election Nov 4, 2008 in South Jordan.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Deadlines for registering to vote in the Nov. 6 general election are approaching — and so is the start of early voting.

Utahns who want to vote in the upcoming election have until Oct. 9 to register by mail and until Oct. 22 to register either in person or online.

Early ballots will be mailed out Oct. 9, and Utahns who prefer to vote by mail have until Nov. 2 to request an absentee ballot.

For those Utahns who want to cast their ballots in person before Election Day, early voting begins Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 2 at locations throughout the state.

"There's a lot of opportunity to register to vote and request a ballot," Utah Director of Elections Mark Thomas said. "It is simple."

Utah was the third state to offer online voter registration, Thomas said, and the only state to offer online and by-mail voter registrations to all residents.

Early voting is expected to account for about half the ballots cast, he said, up from about 40 percent in 2008, the last presidential election year.

Thomas also predicted voter turnout will be up, in part because GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, considered a “favorite son” of Utah, is at the top of the ballot.

Only 51 percent of the Utahns registered to vote went to the polls in November 2010. But this year could top the 74 percent turnout among registered voters in 2004, the highest in recent years, Thomas said.

"There's some big races out there," he said. "Certainly, those all help in getting people out there to vote."

More information on registration and voting, including the state's voter information guide, is available at vote.utah.gov.

For voters, the website "should be their one-stop shop for election needs and questions," Thomas said. "We really packed quite a bit in there."

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