Election Day: Tuesday turnout on track to trounce records in Utah
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Election Day 2012 could be one for the history books. Record voter turnout is expected in Utah Tuesday and elsewhere.
”We've already had an excellent turnout,” Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said Tuesday morning. ”In the last presidential election we saw about a 71 percent turnout; 76 percent in the one prior. In terms of the number of people voting, this will be a record and it could possibly be a record percentage-wise as well.”
With nearly 445,000 registered voters on the active rolls, and another 100,000 listed as registered but inactive, the number of Salt Lake County residents who cast a ballot in today's presidential election could climb to almost 500,000 — the most for any election year.
Swensen said there are a number of people listed as inactive — who have not voted in four years — but they are still registered and eligible to vote.
”They may just like to vote in presidential elections, so they may show up and vote today,” she said.
Turnout has been brisk at polling locations countywide, she said. At one location in Sandy, there was a constant stream of voters casting their ballots at Granite Elementary School, said poll manager Chuck Baribeau.
Voter Ashley Chandler, of Sandy, said she was relieved to finally have been able to vote and be almost done with the long-running campaign and election process.
”I can't stand it. I'm so glad it's over!” she said. The negative campaigning and divisive rhetoric on social media has been especially hard for her to deal with, she said.
”It was just driving me insane,” Chandler said.
Similar potentially record-setting turnout was anticipated in Utah County, where long lines were reported in some polling places, according to Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson, but no major problems have been reported.
Just before noon, voters at one polling location in Lehi reported waits of about 90 minutes.
Utah County has an estimated 250,000 registered voters on its rolls and the vast majority are expected to participate in today's election.
"We shooting for about 75 to 80 percent voter turnout the way it's going," Thompson said. "Eighty percent would be a record number."
In Davis County, turnout is also expected to hit nearly 80 percent of the approximately 158,000 registered voters, said Davis County Clerk Steve Rawlings. There were lines early on, but following the morning rush, things settled down a bit, he said.
So far, 40 percent of Davis voters have already cast their ballots either today or through other early voting options, he added.
With projected record-breaking voter turnout, party officials on Tuesday encouraged voters to arrive at their polling locations by 8 p.m. to cast their ballots. State law requires that anyone in line to vote by 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot.
“The turnout this year far exceeds our expectations and will likely break previous voter turnout records. Clearly, people are excited to vote” said Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright. “I encourage all voters to arrive at their polling locations by 8 p.m. and be patient as many of your neighbors will also be voting.”
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