Utah's counties will receive more than $2.5 million from the state to run the Western States Presidential Primary in February.

County clerks and election officials learned of their specific allocations during a meeting Wednesday with the state Elections Office.

Utah's largest-populated counties — Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Cache and Washington — are the only counties to receive six-figure amounts. The other 23 counties will receive amounts between $53,000 and $15,000.

The primary will utilize electronic voting machines and poll workers in each county, and because fewer people turn out in primaries, most counties are considering consolidating voting districts.

Paying for poll workers and election judges and delivery of electronic voting machines can cost the counties a bundle.

Joseph Demma, chief of staff to Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, whose office runs statewide elections, said he anticipates that counties will consolidate voting locations for upcoming elections.

"We encourage it as a cost-saving measure to not purchase as many voting machines," Demma said.

To help manage the costs, Davis County will take its 95 normal voting locations and consolidate them to possibly fewer than 30, said elections specialist Brian McKenzie. During a meeting Tuesday, the Davis County Board of Commissioners voted to use the Davis Conference Center for one of Layton's consolidated districts.

McKenzie said that by August, he expects to have a handle on polling places for the Feb. 5 primary.

Smaller cities in the county will likely have just one voting location, said Pat Beckstead, the county's election manager. Larger cities will have at least two locations.

Scott Hogensen, chief deputy Summit County clerk, said the 30 voting locations in his county may be consolidated to five.

"I think most all of the counties are considering heavy consolidation for the Western States Presidential Primary," Hogensen said.

Salt Lake County, which used 376 voting locations in the November 2006 election, may have fewer than 200 for the primary, said chief deputy clerk Jason Yocom.

Washington County elections clerk Melanie Abplanalp said her county's 78 precincts normally combine to 45 polling locations. "We haven't really considered (consolidation) at this point," she said.

In Utah County, recent changes to precinct boundaries mean residents won't consolidate further, said Sandy Hoffmann, Utah County elections coordinator. Changes that were approved in April eliminated 33 precincts and 11 polling locations, Hoffmann said. So she wants to give the new configuration a test run.

"We're not jumping into the consolidating thing just yet," she said.

Clerks across the state already have their hands full planning for November's municipal elections and a referendum vote on a voucher law that would give $500 to $3,000 subsidies to families who want their children to attend private schools.

Weeks before the election, the clerks around the state will post notices in area newspapers to let residents know where to vote.


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