With the expected low voter turnout in Tuesday's primary elections, a couple of votes here or there may determine whether Craig Oliver or Bob Stringham face Rep. Howard Nielson on Nov. 8, as well as which county commission, legislative and school board candidate makes it to the general election.
Early Tuesday, election judges in a number of voting districts contacted by the Deseret News reported few, if any, voters. The turnout is expected to be less than 20 percent of the registered voters, way down from 1984 when 37 percent of the voters cast ballots in the primary election.By midmorning only 23 people - five of them election judges - had voted in the Jackson Elementary School, where three districts in Rose Park vote. "It's a little better now than this morning but not much," said election judge Beth Campbell.
It was just as slow at Canyon View School in Sandy, where 24 people had voted by midmorning.
The polls will remain open until 8 p.m. The Sunday Deseret News contained a list, by voting district, of all polling places in Salt Lake County.
While most Utahns do have a primary in their districts, there is no statewide, big-name primary this year. In 1984, both the Republicans and Democrats had primaries in their gubernatorial races.
The primaries this year are in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic race, state House and Senate, county commission and school board races. Whether you havea primary or not depends on where you live. For example, 1,000 voting districts in Salt Lake County have some kind of a primary, while 119 voting districts in the county don't have a primary at all.
The only federal primary is between Democrats Stringham and Oliver in the heavily Republican 3rd Congressional District, which comprises Utah County, southwest Salt Lake County and most of eastern Utah. The winner there faces Nielson, R-Utah, who leads both of them in head-to-head poll match-ups.
The latest Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Deseret News and KSL-TV shows a dead heat between Oliver and Stringham. Each shows 18 percent support with 63 percent undecided.
Davis County has a GOP commission primary between Dub Lawrence and Commissioner Harold J. Tippetts, a county clerk race between Republicans Margene Isom and Glen E. Saunders and three non-partisan Davis School Board primaries.
The southwestern part of Salt Lake County also has the 3rd District Democratic congressional primary, since the 3rd District includes that part of the county. In Salt Lake County there are also primaries in state Senate districts 2, 5 and 8 and state House districts 22, 28, 29, 31, 32, 35, 47, 49 and 53. State Board of Education District 4 also has a primary, as do Salt Lake City School Board districts 1, 3, 5 and 7; Murray School Board District 5; and Granite School Board districts 1 and 3.
Oliver said he was encouraged by the poll over the weekend, "especially when it said the Democrats favored us." Tuesday, Oliver drove to Price to "honk and wave while the guys are going to work."
Oliver returned to Salt Lake County Tuesday afternoon to clean up his yard for a victory party he plans at his house in the evening.
Oliver said about a dozen campaign workers in Salt Lake and Utah counties will be calling potential voters during the day.
"I feel confident it is going to be a light turnout. If the lead holds among the Democrats we'll come out on top. Then we'll worry about Nielson tomorrow," Oliver said.
Stringham started Tuesday by voting. He spent the rest of the day "doing some private calling" to get out the vote. After the polls close, Stringham said he'd go down to his campaign headquarters and wait for the results. "We have a victory celebration planned."
Stringham said his phone bank system includes about 200 telephone workers throughout the district that began making calls Monday about 6 p.m. and were going to work through the day Tuesday urging people to vote.